More writefaggotry from the guy who did Saving Selena, posting under a "Selena" trip. The story is yet to be completed, but the writefag claims he will eventually finish it. It was an attempt to cover the long neglected idea of a high school in the land of grimdark, the original idea featuring Coach Kharn, who did not make it in due to him being such a great guy.
Not to be confused with HS40K.
In the Schola Progenium on Klysus IV a Stormtrooper, Commissar, or aspiring Battle Sister did not leave the academy until the Ecclesiarchy deemed them ready. To avoid any particular Progena (the word for graduates of the Schola) from deeming themselves better than or inferior to their brethren, the age at which a Cadet became a Progena was standardized. It differed from Schola to Schola, but the Schola's that sent their Progena to the battlefield at the age of 18 usually were avoided by any Sororitas order, Stormtrooper unit, or Commissariat that had a choice. In the 41st Millennium, young teenagers were not a rare sight on the battlefield, but they did not make the best soldiers. On Klysus IV, they prided themselves as creating the best soldiers and servants of the Emperor. 21 was the age, and nobody was accepted into the academy after the age of 6.
Cadet Nayren was 19. He was a Commissar cadet, and it had been 13 years since his father was sent to Armageddon as a front-line Lieutenant. Apparently he and his unit had blasted through a bunch of Orks with flamers and ran screaming into Ghazghkull Thraka himself. A couple of years later, he got the news and was shipped off to the Schola with a Missionary constantly reminding him that it was his turn to make a difference in the Imperium, before moving off to another mewling orphan and telling him the exact same thing. Nayren was past such childishness by now, however. In a few years he would be a junior Commissar in the glorious armies of the Imperium of- “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” A few fellow Commissar cadets and a crowd of Stormtrooper cadets followed the noise into the sparring chambers, where to nobody’s great surprise but to everybody’s great amusement, a brawl was going on. Teeth flew as a Sororitas cadet dressed in sparring robes delivered a roundhouse kick to the face of a Stormtrooper who was busy pounding another Sister into the floor with a bloody fist. Another male cadet grabbed the woman from behind and received a broken nose and crushed toes for his trouble. Cadet Zane, a 20 year old Stormtrooper cadet who specialized in hand-to-hand combat and bigotry, slammed his outstretched fingers into the Sister’s throat and kicked her to the floor before two more Sisters tackled him to the ground. The three of them furiously traded blows, with Zane taking the worst of it, before the Schola Confessor came into the room roaring furiously about discipline and weakness in service of the Emperor, and berating both the males and females for sloppy combat techniques. In respect of his position, the fight stopped and nursing staff rushed forward to collect the six most injured students.
Nayren couldn’t help but laugh as Zane screamed something about “-ing dry-as-a-bone bitches!” as he was dragged off to the infirmary. The infirmary was staffed by the women of the Order Hospitaller who had a history of dispensing painful treatment to Zane, and only Nayren knew Zane’s insults were probably directed towards the nurses themselves.
About an hour later, Nayren was allowed in to see Zane, who sat up with his ribs, right hand and head bandaged was smirked as Nayren entered. “You see that hit I got on their queen-bitch?” “Yeah, I bet she’ll be breathing funny for a while after that.” “I’d prefer if it stopped her breathing completely, or at least from talking about the Emperor all the time”. Nayren frowned. “We are Imperial servants, if she wants to talk about the Emper-“ “Not that, you know what I mean. Bla bla bla, swearing is a disgrace to the Emperor’s ears, bla bla bla sexual activity is a distraction to our eternal service, etcetera”. Zane growled. He was the kind of man who said what was on his mind, and that didn’t rub well with the Sisters in training. Even Nayren, who in several years would probably be a fanatical no-nonsense Commissar (at least when in front of the men), found their devotion tiresome sometimes. “Well, what about the scrumball championship? The Sisters are pretty damn fanatical about our Schola’s sports.” Zane rubbed his head in response. “Pretty fucking fanatical about their sparring sessions as well” “From what I hear, you called Kyandra ‘the Emperor’s taste-tester’. No wonder she got so pissed.” “Yeah, well she’s always fasting so I bet when she gets to the Golden Throne she’ll be fucking hungry”.
Meanwhile, cadet Kyandra, in the female section of the infirmary, discussed the borderline-heresy of Zane and his fellow Stormtroopers with the woman who was widely accepted as the female version of Zane, 20 year old cadet Cyrene. “Did you hear what he called me!? That sort of language has no place in the mouth of an Imperial servant!” Kyandra sounded genuinely scandalized, and if it were not for the mass of bruises on her face and knuckles one would be forgiven for thinking she was simply an offended teenager. Cyrene sneered savagely, a movement which hurt her throat. She rubbed it as she spoke carefully. “He’s a real bastard,” Kyandra frowned as Cyrene spoke, not appreciating her language but accepting it by now “, but don’t worry. The scrumball championships are in a few days, and we’ll destroy them. If we can’t show them the error of their way with our fists, we’ll beat them at their own game.” “Their team is very strong though, ever since Zane took command and that Nayren guy became his playmaker, they’ve been better than us. Two years in a row!” Cyrene spat, inhaling sharply as the movement hurt her throat once more. “We have a new team. We’ve replaced our weaknesses with strengths. Last year may have been rough on both teams, but this time, we’ll have both the Commissar and Stormtrooper students afraid to play us for a decade.” Kyandra giggled. “I like that Nayren fellow, actually. I think I’ll break his arm.”
Zane and Nayren, between lessons in Imperial History (the parts they were allowed to know), Imperial Technology (the parts they were allowed to know) and Imperial Doctrine (all of it), spent a lot of time in the exercise chambers with the rest of the guys from the scrumball team, talking about anything from the next prank they were going to pull on the sisters to who was going to win the Klysus IV Astartes-aspirant decathlon. The Star Fangs Space Marine chapter recruited from Klysus IV every few years, and some of the exhaustive tests the aspirants were put through were heavily holo-vised. Apparently the Chapter Master was some sort of public relations genius, because it was the most watched event of any year it was on.
“Shit son, you’d best be joking if you think he’s going to beat Jenson. Did you see him in the darkbear wrestling event? He ripped that thing’s throat out with his bare hands!” The largest member of the senior Stormtrooper cadet classes and the heavy hitter of the scrumball team, Grent was a veritable bastion of muscle, noise and dedication the Emperor. It was just like him to go for the strongest member of the Astartes aspirants, and Zane rolled his eyes. “Emperor’s bones,” words that earned a glare from a passing Sister, “but you’re an idiot. Being a Space Marine isn’t just about STRENGTH, didn’t you see the guy that won in 993? He was the smallest one there, and now he’s 8 feet tall!” Grent disagreed: “But imagine if a guy like Jensen won! He could be 10 foot tall, and-“. The last words of Grent’s sentence were blocked out by both Zane’s palm striking his forehead in frustration, and the demanding voice of one of the Commissar-lecturers: “Swine of the Emperor, we have a gift for you! Report to the main courtyard for a surprise sermon!” Most of the Stormtroopers groaned, about half of the Commissar’s dutifully marched off to the courtyard without a word, and smiles broke out on the faces of all the Sisters as they headed to the courtyard with joy in the hearts and a song on their lips. Zane sneered and said loudly: “Damn you girls like to use those mouths for everything but what they’re best for”. Zane, Grent, and a few other Stormtroopers who moved to support Zane were set upon by forty-odd absolutely livid Sisters. The Commissar-lecturer broke it up promptly, but was delayed by his attempts to appear stoic in the face of a situation he found absolutely hilarious.
Nursing bruises and ignoring Nayren’s amusement, the three scrumball players listened to what was actually a pretty good sermon. It wasn’t the usual “the Emperor protects those who get shot in the face and die” stuff, but a more applicable version of the Imperial creed. It was proving unpopular with a few of the Sisters, but there was just no pleasing some of them unless everybody walked around in brown robes singing chants to the Emperor while holding a candle and scourging themselves with their free hand. “-and how did Saint Celestine become a saint? By simply BELIEVING? No, it was not that simple! Belief is simply an ELEMENT of proper service. What were the other elements you say? Well I have talked with the Saint myself, and while she seems convinced it all happened by chance, I know that she is simply being humble and laying the kudos at the foot of the Emperor. Vigorous exercise, three square meals a day, constant training and constant fighting, and CONSTANT FAITH, is how she ended up how she is today! Another issue I sometimes come across in the Emperor’s service is the issue of sex. Should a loyal servant of the Emperor engage in carnal relations? I say there is no reason why not UNLESS it proves distracting! The Emperor comes first!” A troublemaking Stormtrooper yelled out: “DEPENDS ON THE SISTER!” A wave of shock, rage, and carefully concealed amusement passed through the crowd. A group of Sisters grabbed the man and dragged him off struggling to present him to the Sister-Superior. The priest chuckled. “A joke in bad taste, but evidence of a sharp wit. This is another good example of how one’s gifts must be channeled toward service of the Emperor-“ The sermon then became more mundane, and Nayren didn’t remember the rest of it.
As night fell, Nayren retired from his companions and allowed them to gamble and cuss the night away with the other Stormtroopers. Commissars were very different students to Stormtroopers: the latter may be heavily indoctrinated and educated, but when it came down to it, they were killers and tools, pure and simple. A Commissar must lead, must know more, must do more, must be better than the men under him. Night was when Nayren engaged in extra-curricular reading and service to the Emperor.
Having read a few chapters of “Pulling the grenade and throwing the pin: a detailed Imperial guide to correct martyrdom procedure”, Nayren headed off to a chapel for a late night prayer session. The chapel he chose was deserted except for a single robed sister, whom he recognized from the brawl earlier in the day. Kyandra, that was her name.
Kyandra saw him, and smiled. Nayren inwardly raised an eyebrow. He could swear she liked him, but she was a Sister-in-training, would she even think of a man like that? Except for the Emperor of course. Ugh, he’d been spending too much time with Zane. And of course, the Emperor was not just a man. Anyway, sister Kyandra. She was quite attractive, her face young and soft and unscarred (though still bruised despite her treatment), her skin olive, lips pronounced, eyes a remarkable shade of-
Emperor-damn it. Now he was distracted. He moved to one of the smaller statues of the Emperor in front of the main one, and kneeled to pray. Kyandra spoke: “I notice you do not seem to approve of your friend’s blasphemy.” Nayren started, the chapel being completely silent before. “I wouldn’t call it blasphemy. Just a loose tongue”. “A loose tongue is one of the many steps toward damnation”. “Perhaps. But Stormtroopers are different from you Sisters, why do you hold them to the same standards?” Nayren instantly regretted it as foolish thing to say. “Why? Why!? We are all the Emperor’s servants, we should all be held to the same standard!” Nayren quickly tried to change the subject before he ended up on the receiving end of one of the famed Sororitas tirades. “Yes, true. If you don’t mind me asking, how are you? You took quite a beating this morning”. Kyandra opened her mouth and quickly closed it in surprise at Nayren’s sudden concern, and they both blushed. What in the Emperor’s na- “W-well, I’m fine. Thank you for your concern.” The Sister then hastily retreated from the chapel, leaving Nayren to his thoughts and prayers.
The next couple of days passed rather uneventfully as the scrumball championships approached, and both Zane and Cyrene drilled their teams mercilessly. The players of each team in peak condition, highly motivated, and ready to unleash some merciless aggression, they were absolutely ready when the game day arrived. Nayren woke up covered in sweat and shaking with nerves, Zane was rather silent, and Grent wouldn’t shut up about how many skulls he was going to crack. Despite himself, Nayren hoped Grent wouldn’t hurt Kyandra.
But if it came down to hurting her or winning, he admitted, he would probably hurt her too.
Kyandra thought the same, and Cyrene just wanted an excuse to kick Zane senseless.
Ten minutes until the big game. The scrumball championships. Zane was more animated now, Grent was shoving everything that moved and punching grav-lockers, Nayren was engaging in some light calisthenics. Zane was giving a pep speech to the nine team members, six of which were Stormtrooper cadets and looked to Zane with a respect that they would give a Commissar cadet: “Two years in a row we’ve beaten these bitches, who spend all day prayin’ and none trainin’. Are you the guys who are going to let them get one up on us?” An assortment of too-loud responses greeted him, a few along the lines of “FUCK YEAH”, at least one “the Emperor is on OUR side today!”, all punctuated by the sound of Grent putting his foot through a glass shower screen. “We all know the Sisters of Battle are tough. They sure think so. But we’re Stormtroopers and Commissars, we do the REAL work of the Imperium, we don’t spend all day praying and hoping, our job will be to fight and die! We do the dirty work, we’re tougher than they are, so get out there and fucking PROVE IT!” As Nayren continued to stretch, he wondered how Kyandra and her team was preparing for the game.
In the female prep room, the mood was more serene. A few of the sisters simply knelt in silent meditation, preparing themselves for eighty minutes of supreme exertion. Cyrene led some more sisters in a group chant that reminded Kyandra of a repetitive Khornate battlecry they had studied. Kyandra sniffed and began jogging up and down on the spot as Cyrene and her fellows finished the chant, and began engaging in some sort of warm-up themselves. Cyrene spoke to Kyandra: “Are you ready for this?” “Never been more ready” “Remember- they’re stronger than we are, but not by much. We need to be faster, more agile, and most importantly, more ferocious.” Kyandra nodded, and Cyrene raised her voice so everyone in the room could hear it. “You hear that Sisters? We’re going to hurt them, and we’re going to win!” The Sister cadets replied with much gusto.
The game was on.
The crowd was huge, and wild. On championship day, the crowds were almost completely split up between male and female, each side furiously competitive against the other. Many years ago it had been decided that male and female competition encourage the strongest competition the Schola had ever seen, and competition was good for the cadets. While there were initial concerns that pitting men vs women in physical combat and sports would be a one-sided fight, the very first scrumball game that year proved it completely wrong. The Sister-Superiors were easily as tough as any Commissar-lecturer or Stormtrooper instructor, and made remarkably tough individuals out of their female cadets.
The stadium inside the Schola was also quite large, one hundred meters long and forty meters wide, and surrounded by grandstands that could easily hold thousands of spectators. Thousands of spectators were there, with almost everybody in the Schola to watch the climactic event of the sporting year. Sister Superiors sat in the front rows across from Commissars and Stormtroopers, but both male and female shared the judging bench. They were, however, arguing with some animation. The Emperor’s chosen were, surprisingly to regular civilians that knew anything of the Schola’s training, passionate about their sports.
When both teams took the field, the screaming and barracking reached fever pitch. The Commissar and Stormtrooper cadets were wearing tight-fitting black bodysuits with shoulder-pads, helmets and knee guards, while the Sister’s were similarly equipped but wearing white. The players took their positions on the flexible-wooden field, with only one player waiting in reserve. This particular variant of scrumball was supremely demanding on the players: 80 minutes with little rest.
Zane walked forward to the middle of the field, and Cyrene did likewise. It was customary for the captains of each team to grasp hands before the battle between the two teams. The two marched right up to one another so that their faces were almost touching, and glared at each other. Zane squeezed her hand as hard as he could, and Cyrene squeezed back. Neither showed any discomfort, and after a few moments they walked backwards to their place in the team, eying each other the whole time.
The crowd was making a lot of noise, and Nayren looked to his side and caught Grent’s eye. The big man grinned reassuringly, said: “Gonna mess them up!”, and gave a powerful thumbs-up. Nayren couldn’t help but laugh. The Sisters wouldn’t know what hit them.
Kyandra looked to Cyrene, who nodded back at her. The Sisters had been training in secret to negate the disadvantage of their lesser size, and two particular women on their team had a single target: the massive man on the other team. Expert tacklers by this point and fully capable of hurting even a large man, the two would not miss any opportunity to damage the heavy-hitter of their opponent’s team. Kyandra turned her eyes back to her opponents, and Nayren caught her eye. He looked away quickly and she blushed. Mindgames. She’d definitely have to hurt him.
The overseer, one of the Commissar-lecturers, raised his arm, which contained a small horn that could be set to make either a quiet hoot or an ungodly ground-breaking bellow. He pressed the activation stud, and the horn boomed. The game had started.
Zane kicked the ball, about the size of two of Grent's fists, and Cyrene caught. Brilliant, he’d get to crush her early. In scrumball the players on both teams could tackle the opposing players at any time, and it was simply a case of keeping a hold of the ball. If it was dropped or it was intercepted (as happened most often), the other team got it. Zane grinned fiercely as he ran to intercept the Sister’s captain. If he broke her ribs this early in the gam-
Zane was blocked by a large, strong looking woman with short cropped blonde hair, and he charged forward and slammed his helmet into her chest without slowing even for a second. The impact, however jarred his neck and DID slow him down, and at full momentum Cyrene easily sent him sprawling to the flaw with a fist to the side of his helmet as she went by. Cyrene ducked and weaved, having to leap high into the air to avoid a vicious low tackle by a Stormtrooper, and was caught by a massive coat-hanger. Grent grinned and grabbed the ball of the air as Cyrene slammed heavily into the floor, the breath knocked completely out of her. The crowd screamed in excitement.
Grent charged forward, supporting players on either side as he mashed and mangled his way through Sisters attempting to stop the behemoth. Kyandra made a magnificent flying spear tackle that took out one of the two men supporting grent to the admiration of the crowd before being knocked sprawling through the air by Nayren’s shoulder. As Grent slammed aside another defender, the two Sisters whose job it was to nullify him struck. The hit with the force of two thunderbolts, his solar plexus and legs being targeted. Utilizing the energy-dispersal techniques they had been taught in unarmed-combat classes, the two Sisters channelled incredible kinetic force into Grent’s body, sending the man flying into the air on onto his back, the breath being knocked out of him. He was slow getting up, and he lost the ball.
Throwing across the field to Kyandra, one of the fastest players their team had, Zane moved to intercept. Kyandra almost avoided him, but Zane caught her with an outstretched and pulled her back through the air, slamming her to the ground. Cyrene charged into just as he finished putting Kyandra down and knocked him down, taking the ball. Quickly changing direction, Nayren did not have the momentum to stop her and she palmed him off. Before hitting the scoreline, however, a Commissar cadet took her legs out from under her, but she retained the ball. Climbing to her feet and handing over to a team-mate, the game continued.
Remarkably, when half-time came, nobody had scored besides one penalty shot for each side (Cyrene punching Zane in the head and initiating a brawl and Grent subsequently throwing two Sisters into the crowd, injuring a number of people). The crowd was absolutely wild with anticipation, and when the bruised and sweating but unbroken players took to the field once more, they played at least as fiercely as they had before. A brilliant feint by Zane and a last second pass to Grent, however, netted a single touchdown for the Stormtrooper/Commissar team twenty minutes before the end.
And then something remarkable happened. Manging to avoid Nygrum, Kyandra managed to make a run up half of the field unmolested before being tackled heavily by a Stormtrooper. A following Sister managed to stop the man from retrieving the ball and Cyrene picked it up as she sprinted past. She avoided Grent and both nearby defenders, and Zane ran as quickly as he could from his position on the line to take her head on. However, it looked as if Cyrene would be unstoppable.
Then the miracle occurred.
Cyrene’s eyes seemed to glow gold, which was bizarre enough in itself but not enough to give Zane pause. She began to slow down and lost her focus, however, as if she was seeing something nobody else was. A vision! A vision from the Empe-HURGH.
Zane had not missed the opportunity. As it was the dying seconds of the game there was no chance for the Sisters to win if he stopped Cyrene now, and to add insult to injury, he went in foot-first. He hit her in the groin, throwing her backwards over two meters, flying through the air and landing heavily on the ground. Zane roared his victory, ignoring the furious jeering from the female portion of the crowd, and threw the ball up in the air. The look in Cyrene’s eyes was gone, and replaced by a grimace of pain. But she had seen something, and everybody needed to be alerted.
Death was coming. And she couldn’t get up.
Zane woke up in the infirmary again, but by the Emperor, he woke up smiling. It would take more than a running reverse punch (and a very good one, he admitted) from a spitting Cyrene to dampen his spirits. They had won the scrumball championship, and they had done it in style. Zane paid no heed the odd glowing-eye trick Cyrene had pulled: they had won fair and square.
Zane grinned and wandered off to join his team for the post-game celebrations.
Cyrene, who had gone from abject terror at what she had seen to blinding rage (hence Zane’s hospitalization) and back to abject terror, was currently in the Arch-Confessor of Klysus IV’s personal chapel. The Arch-Confessor’s name was Morus, and he was a formidable man in many ways. His age was unknown, but he (very) rarely remarked that he used to be a Steel Legion Stormtrooper who had fought in the First War for Armageddon over a century ago. As he appeared to be a man in his early fifty’s, this claim was looked upon with some skepticism. However, few brooked the subject with him willingly. Whenever the First War was mentioned in his presence, he reacted badly. Out of respect for the grizzled priest’s position, the issue was avoided.
Morus was dressed in a combination of military and Ecclesiarchal dress that looked any good only on him, and his glowing Rosarius completed what was quite an impressive effect. As both the head religious and civil official of the Schola, Cyrene had decided he was the first person she should talk to her about her vision. Morus sat her down, offered her a drink that was politely-but-firmly declined, and then sat at his large desk. “Good game. I especially appreciated your knocking Zane out after that dreadful move he pulled. I was rooting for you by the way, I’m past the point where I get wrapped up in all the gender business.” Cyrene gave a rough smile. “I had a vision.” “From the Emperor” “From who else?” “You tell me. Judging by that hit on poor Zane, it could have been Khorne.” Cyrene frowned. “Oh come now sister Cyrene, nowhere in the Adepta Tactica does it say Sisters cannot have a sense of humor.” “I don’t have time for humor. Let me tell you what I saw.” Morus’ eyes flashed curiously, but Cyrene missed it as she recalled the vision. “I saw the Emperor, and he was slashing his fiery blade through the air. He made a pattern with the trails of fire”. Morus’ jaw shifted noticeably. Cyrene made to continue, but Morus stopped her and pulled a piece of paper from one of his many drawers, and passed it to her. “Did it look like this?” The pattern on the paper was rather elaborate, but when it was drawn so clearly for her, it was clearly a Chaos glyph sharing many artistic similarities with the symbols of the four chaos gods. But it was different, more like the Undivided symbol with a number of alterations and a further star-shaped symbol in the middle. It was the symbol she had seen. “Yes, that’s it!” Morus rolled his eyes. “The Emperor and his visions. I find it more personal to, say, write a letter when I want to tell someone something they shouldn’t know”. He produced a firearm from a hidden place on his person and fired it, stunning her. “Oh Malus? Sometimes you fail to amuse me with your games.”
Grent was drunk. Impressively drunk. So drunk, in fact, that he was coming up with “great ideas” every few minutes that were proving difficult for him to be dissuaded from. “Tah hell with this..sssss. Imma gonna go ask Sister Angrel if she wants sum of big ol’ Grent. She’s got legs like an ELDUHH.” Zane tried his best to look serious while Nayren laughed ceaselessly into his hands. “You know what Grent? I think that’s a good idea”. Grent’s massive face lit up in such genuine excitement that Zane had to take a deep breath to stop from laughing. “Mmmph…yes, go now…pffhhhh” Grent staggered off as fast as he could to catch Angrel, a Sister Superior who had just passed their room and gave them a cold stare as she saw their alcohol. Zane and Nayren stayed in the room, but leaned slightly around the corner to watch Grent approach the brisk-paced woman in a position Nayren remembered as the “Head slightly exposed” position from the Uplifting Primer. He laughed. Grent was running down the hallway, bellowing for the Sister to stop. She did, and turned. “Sistuh Angrul! I…uhhh…I was wondering…” Grent seemed to lose some of his confidence under her imperious gaze, but dug deep and summoned the strength he needed. “You see Sistuh...the EMPRA needsh children to fill out his armies, and you got legs like them…uhh…Eldar! So ima-gin’ if we could make really TALL AND FAST SOLDIERSH-“ The Sister looked as if someone had hit her in the ovaries with a falcon-grade punchhammer. Nayren was worried she was going for her knife, but a Commissar-lecturer intervened. “SOLDIER, WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR ARE YOU DOING? THIS BEHAVIOR WOULD WARRANT A STIFF FLOGGING BACK IN THE GUARD, AND-“ “Shur?” “…WHAT IS IT, SCUM? YOU BETTER HAVE A GOOD EXPLA-“ “You look ghood in that uniform, can you teach me to look good?” The Commissar spluttered, and Nayren’s keen eyesight saw the Sister’s hand ghost to the Commissar’s, who immediately relaxed. Nayren then did something stupid. He yelled: “WHOEVER COMES FIRST IN THE SERVICE OF THE EMPEROR SHALL BE BLESSED!” Unfortunately, two sober people were perfectly capable of catching his drift.
Kyandra knelt silently in meditation, ignoring the pain from her post-game bruising and exhaustion to venerate the Emperor. She was also thinking: what had happened to Cyrene? Kyandra was sure she could have scored, but something seemed to distract her. Speaking of which, where was Cyrene? She had left immediately for the Arch-Confessor’s office a while ago and had not accompanied her dejected team from the field. Whatever it was, it must be important. Kyandra allowed a flash of annoyance to cross her face. It had BETTER be important. She allowed another distracting thought to cross her mind. How was Nayren? She shook her head, finished her prayers, and got up to leave the dormitory that she shared with Cyrene. As she did, a group of men that she recognized as the scrumball team she had just played run past the door, yelling and hooting rubbish as they made their way down the Sister’s accommodation along the lines of: “WE WON, THE EMPEROR FAVORS US, LIFT YOUR GAME SISTERS!” She could only imagine how aggravated some of the women closed in their rooms must be, but they made an impressive and successful effort to restrain their choler.
Except for Kyandra, who opened her door and hit the closest man in the face. The rest of his group just laughed and whooped, and left the man to pick himself up on the ground as they kept moving. The Commissar cadet wavered as he picked himself up, drunk as he was, and looked her in the eye with abject amusement. Kyandra frowned. It was Nayren. “…Sorry, but yo-“ “S’all good!” Nayren grinned widely, and looked over her shoulder into her spartan dormitory. “Mind if uh come in? Never been in a sister’s room before!” Kyandra nearly blushed again, but restrained herself using one of the methods of body-control she had been taught in meditation classes. “I don’t think that’s a good-“ Nayren pushed past her and cut off her sentence. “Not much in here is there? In my room there’s uniforms, books, pictures, holovids, propaganda posters, porn-“ “That’s enough!” said Kyandra as she began to blush despite herself. What is the fascination of men with pornography? She found it repulsive and many Sister Superiors decried it as evidence of a weak will and therefore sinful. Nayren was not so drunk that he missed her reaction. “Yeah, you sisters seem to really hate porn, no idea why. It’s natural, y’know? If the Emperor didn’t want us having sex, why would he give us those parts?” Kyandra was blushing wildly now and was acutely embarrassed. “I th-I…perhaps you should leave before you are caught, males are not supposed to be here”. Nayren smiled and said: “It’s up to you, Kyandra.”, and then left. She got the impression that he had meant more than one thing by that. She would have to discuss this with one of the Superiors.
The next morning, the entire scrumball team was heavily hungover, only being allowed to partake in alcohol very rarely by the administration. Whenever they won the scrumball championship (not even once a year), grateful staff would provide them with considerably more alcohol than they needed for a calm celebration. Carnage always ensued, but the entire Schola was always in an uproar after the scrumball championships so it was overlooked.
Unfortunately for Zane and Nayren, being hungover was not an excuse to miss their duties and lectures. They would be performing conditioning, combat exercises, firing range practice, and sitting through hours of classes like any other day, and they were not looking forward to it.
But the day would actually turn out to be very interesting.
Their first joint class for both Commissar and Stormtrooper cadets was “Imperial-Xeno relations”, and the Commissar-lecturer was adamant in both in his hate for the xenos and his respect for them as the sort of challenge that makes mankind stronger. He was one of the more well-read and scholarly Commissars one could expect to find, and he was currently lecturing on the Tau. “The Tau are an interesting race in that their arrogance, in a manner of speaking, outweighs that of even that of the Eldar. They are so convinced that the Greater Good is the only way any race can prosper in the galaxy and they believe so strongly in their strength at arms that it cannot be described as anything but naïve. Recent research suggests that their race is under some sort of psychic domination by their Ethereal caste, but I’ll go more into that in our next module.” “Relations between the Imperium and Tau have always been strained, not just because the Tau are dirty xenos, but because they have a strength of belief in themselves that rivals our faith in the Emperor. However, unlike the Emperor, the Greater Good is not a powerfully-binding force but rather a lie that will eventually collapse in the face of a hostile galaxy. The Tau’s military, while advanced, is rated as a non-threat to the Imperium. If you will begin reading screens 49-50-“, the students in the class flicked the buttons on their personal monitors to move to the appropriate screen, “-you will see the results of the latest surveys of Tau military strength. As you can see, the sum total of their entire military is a sub-Rho level threat. Current statistics suggest that the Tau Empire could be completely annihilated by roughly 0.4% of the entire Imperial Guard. Their Navy ranks no better, but that is another issue ent-“ “Commissar, I have something to say.” The lecturer’s eyes narrowed at the student’s impudence. “Speak, and make it good or I’ll have you kicked out of the Schola before you can make a plea to the Emperor”. The student was not intimidated, and Nayren suddenly wished he was not sitting next to him. “Your remark on the Ethereals having domination over the Tau Empire got me thinking: what if the Emperor does the same thing? Or even more, since we are a more advanced psychic race than the Tau, what if there was no Emperor and he was simply a concept equivalent to the Greater Good?” Many of the students gasped, and one look at the Commissar’s face made Nayren gulp nervously and shift his seat slightly further away from the rebel. The student continued: “It just occurred to me that the Imperium is as much of a lie as the T-“ “QUIET!” the Commissar bellowed. “No! I will not be quiet, it is men like you that are the reason we live in a web of lies! I have seen the truth, it has been shown to me and me only, and I know that the Emperor is dead and he will never return, and I know that the Imperium is doomed, and I know that, for all intents and purposes, the Emperor and everything we believe in is a lie!” The student continued to rant as if possessed, and Zane could not help but note the Commissar-lecturer had drawn his laspistol. “YOU WILL CEASE YOUR HERESY AT ONCE!” roared the Commissar at the top of his lungs, drawing glances from passer-by’s in the hallway. Some stopped to watch. The blaspheming student, however, had no intention of stopping, and approached the Commissar aggressively while still ranting. “THE EMPEROR IS A LIE, AND YOU WILL SOM-“. The student’s words were cut off as the Commissar gave him a powerful backhand across the face, leaving the fallen cadet’s face bloody. The Commissar put a foot on his chest as the cadet fell. “For unforgivable blasphemy against the Immortal God-Emperor of the Imperium of Man and in accordance with the Schola heresy-discipline policy, your life is now forfeit. May the Emperor have mercy on your soul.” The Commissar shot the fallen man in the chest, but before he died he spoke a single word: “Malus…” Zane leaned over to Nayren: “Dibs on his chronometer, but you can have his religion essays.”
Arch-Confessor Morus was not only at the top of the Schola’s Ecclesiarchal hierarchy, he was also the Schola’s administrator. So when word spread that one of the Commissar-Lecturers had executed a student for heresy, he was one of the first to know. With a nagging suspicion that the cause of this incident would be known to him, he briskly made his way to the classroom to question the Commissar and students.
When he got there, the body had not been tampered with. Good. The lecturer, who taught “Imperial-Xeno Relations” and “Xenos Technology”, went by the name of Arick. Commissar Arick was a highly-educated and level-headed individual for a Commissar, but Morus could not help but be pleased to see that Arick still possessed the sort of ruthlessness a man in his position needed.
“Commissar, tell me what happened here.” Arick saluted before responding, a very military action, if not appropriate. Arick seemed unsure of himself. “Confessor Morus, I was going through module 8 of the “Studies of the Tau Empire” and we were discussing-“ Morus waved at him to move on: “-well, I was teaching normally when this student interrupted me. He started sprouting such heresy that I had never heard the likes, his death was necessary. I also recommend that the class-members be scheduled for a session with a Confessor to refute the lies they heard today!” Morus rubbed his chin, then replied: “Noted. Report to my office and file a report. The students will be interviewed, and I will oversee the purification of the corps-“ “One more thing, Confessor.” “Yes?” “He said something before he died” Morus’ face darkened slightly: “What did he say?” “He said a word. ‘Malus’, I believe. Could it be-“ “Dismissed, Commissar”.
Zane and Nayren, along with the rest of their class, were being kept in the room. They had not overheard any of the conversation between Commissar Arick and Arch-Confessor Morus, but they were speculating furiously nonetheless. “Malosh? Is that what he said?” “’Malus’, I heard” said a student who was closer to the front. A 21 year old Stormtrooper cadet named Mathew, one of the oldest in the entire Schola and due to be assigned to an Imperial Guard regiment soon, flinched at the mention of the name. “It means something to you?” asked Zane. Mathew seemed uncomfortable, which was discomforting in and of itself. Like any final year cadet, he was a confident and capable individual. “Well, none of you would really know much about this. It’s from back when I was first brought to the Schola after my parents were killed in the Uprising of 977.” Zane shifted slightly. If there was one thing he remembered from his childhood, it was the uprising. One of the younger students, named Sulam inquisitively inquired: “What was the Uprising like”? Zane narrowed his eyes, and allowed the older Stormtrooper to answer. “You all know the details of it. It was shortly after the aspirants for the Star Fangs had completed their final tests and were beginning the Astartes implantation processes-“ “I heard you had to be a kid, like just started puberty, to become a Space Marine”, interrupted Sulam, a highly intelligent and bright-eyed student who never shut his mouth. “Not with the Star Fangs, they’re different. It probably has something to do with how they only recruit from out world, but for once Sulam just shut up and listen”. “I remember calling the Star Fangs the Scary Marines when I was a kid”, laughed Sulam. Zane slapped him over the head to shut him up. What a pain it was when young students were attached to their class. “Yeah anyway, the Uprising started not long after the Star Fangs retreated to their Fortress-Monastery. There was some sort of Chaos cult that popped up overnight in Klysus (capital city of the planet) and started butchering civilians. Emperor-knows why. I have no idea how they got here, but there were some traitor Astartes-“ Mathew licked his lips “-mixed in with the rebels. The Klysus IV PDF was just told to cordon off the main city while the Star Fangs First Company handled it. Two weeks later the Uprising was over, but the twelve thousand people who had not left during the mass-evacuations were all dead. Not a single survivor. The PDF had no explanation, and the Star Fangs just went back to their Fortress.” The group was deathly silent. Even Sulam was rendered mute by the retelling of this dark chapter in Klysus IV’s recent history. Nayren, however, did have a question. “What does this have to do with that name, Malus?” “Well, the number-one candidate selected for the Star Fangs that year was a younger fellow named Malus. He was apparently a psyker as well, so I guess they were going to make one of those Warrior-Librarians the Space Marines use. There was a story that he went missing during the Uprising. I have no idea how it is relevant, but it just rang a bell.” Zane rolled his eyes, tired of the mood change. “Yeah, I remember that too. But then again, I also remember getting funky with a female Catachan cadet once, but that doesn’t make it relevant.” Zane rapped his knuckles across his chest: “That was a painful memory too, actually”.
Cyrene, who had been absent for the day after the scrumball game, passed Zane in the hallway as they were finally allowed to leave. Zane stopped her, and extended his hand. “Good game. And good hit. I like a woman who can play rough.” Cyrene’s eyes narrowed and she bared her teeth, but she shook his hand. “I almost get the impression you’re flirting with me, Stormtrooper. You’ll have to do better than that to get into bed with a Sororitas.” “You’re not a Sororitas yet”, winked Zane. “And you haven’t slept with one yet. In fact, I’d sooner see you burned at a stake than engaging in sexual relations with a sister.” Nayren shifted uncomfortably as, for some reason, he thought of Kyandra. Zane grinned at Cyrene’s barb. You heard the priest a few days ago, there’s nothing wrong with sex as long as it doesn’t interfere with your relationship with the Emper-“ “Which it would. The Emperor comes before personal gratification.” Zane had obviously stopped enjoying himself: “Well, have fun with that.” Zane turned to leave while Nayren followed, and Cyrene headed for the exercise chambers. She wouldn’t lose the scrumball next year.
Meanwhile, troubled by fleshly concerns, Kyandra approached the Sister she respected most to ask for advice: Sister Superior Angrel. “Sister Angrel! I come seeking advice.” Angrel smiled, and Kyandra was struck by her usual desire to emulate her idol as much as possible. Angrel had a remarkable ability to mix charisma with superiority: she was a born leader, and was at once both maternal and demanding. She taught Sororitas/Imperial Guard Diplomacy, Ecclesiarchal History and Close Quarters Combat to the sister cadets, and Kyandra often looked forward to her classes the most. If only to see how one could use a power fist to create a makeshift orbital bombardment shelter. “Feel free to ask, Kyandra”. “I have been having concerns about a male Stormtrooper cadet. I confess I experience some sort of…attraction to him”. Angrel looked unsure for just a moment, and rubbed her chin. “Come into my sanctum, Kyandra. We should discuss this in depth.”
Angrel gestured for Kyandra to kneel in front of her statue of the Emperor, which she did. Angrel kneeled so that the two of them were facing each other, and spoke: “So, sister Kyandra. Tell me what troubles you.” Kyandra hesitated for a moment before responding: “I have been having…feelings for a male cadet, a Commissar named Nayren. I have spoken to him on only a few occasions, but the other day he came into my room while drunk-“, Angrel looked taken aback, and Kyandra rushed to elaborate, “-nothing happened, of course. It’s just that I get the feeling he is attracted to me, and I confess that the feeling is, if ever so slightly, mutual.” Angrel’s expression remained more relaxed than Kyandra had expected. “Are you seeking specific guidance in this particular matter, or are you more concerned with how a servant of the Emperor should deal with their fleshly urges?” “Both, I think.” Now it was Angrel’s turn to hesitate, an action that Kyandra did not associate with the Sister Superior she so idolized. “Well…” Angrel seemed reluctant to continue, and her gaze moved to the statue of the Emperor for a moment, then back to Kyandra. She seemed to gain some conviction, and spoke surely: “Do you remember the priest we had here several days ago? He said that sexual relations are not sinful in and of themselves, but that putting self-gratification above the Emperor is the trap it may lead to. Controlling our bodily urges is something we as Sororitas must learn, and as sex opens all sorts of avenues for Chaos and other sin, as well as distraction in our duties and other more obvious complications, we should avoid it lest w-“ A distant sound distracted Angrel. Kyandra, slightly confused, listened closely as she heard what sounded like footsteps approaching from behind Angrel’s small and unfurnished sleeping chamber. They echoed as if they came from...below. Like someone was navigating a secret passage under the Schola to make their way undetected to the Sister Superior’s chambers. Angrel’s face turned ashen and she hurriedly said: “You should leave, quickly.” “Sister Angrel, wha-“ “We will continue this another time, Kyandra, now please leave.” Confused but obedient, Kyandra picked herself up, nodded her head respectfully to the Emperor’s statue, and moved to the door as the sound of underground footsteps became more apparent. As she attempted to open the traditional wooden door, it jammed. She pulled and twisted the handle, but the door would not open. Angrel rushed over, grabbed the edge of the door and tried to pull it open, straining the hinges and slightly damaging the door, but having no success. The footsteps stopped, and a noise like a stone tile being pushed out of place carried out from the Sister Superior’s sleeping chambers. “I have something special for you today, Angrel!” Kyandra opened her mouth in surprise as one of the Commissar-lecturers emerged from the room, holding what looked an expensive bottle of amasec and…a bunch of rare fellwraith flower blooms.
The Commissar saw Kyandra standing there, and his draw dropped in an expression of surprise that Kyandra had never seen from a Commissar, ever. “I-I see you have one of your students here. Well, I…-” the Commissar seemed to be struggling to find something to say while Angrel rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand. “-of course you’re here, I had expected nothing less. You have been chosen…as…a subject for a test of loyalty and this amasec is part of a ritual that…” The man’s words trailed off as Angrel looked up from her exasperation and stared at him furiously. Kyandra looked from one to the other. “W-wha-“: Angrel interrupted her: “Well, I suppose this is how the Emperor wills it. Commissar Dahn, this is one of my students, sister Kyandra. One of my better students actually. I was advising her on how to best serve the Emperor while combating the natural…urges of a girl her age.” A smile seemed to tug the mouth of the open-mouthed Commissar, which came off as a twitch. “Sister Kyandra, meet Commissar-lecturer Dahn. My consort. Who is ten minutes early.” Dahn looked annoyed with himself. Kyandra’s expression, however, rivalled that of a young child who has just found out for the first time that the Emperor was not the one leaving them presents on Exmas Day. Commissar Dahn seemed to regain his composure spoke next: “Sister Kyandra, stay for a short while. We will discuss this some more.” His tone was that of an authoritarian drill officer, and Kyandra made no move to (attempt to) leave. “Now Kyandra, I understand your surprise. Commissar Dahn and I were both very reluctant to engage in our relationship, and I prayed to the Emperor for months on the issue. Dahn was no less hesitant, but we concluded that the Emperor would not disapprove.” Still confused, Dahn interjected in order to better inform Kyandra, but was at a loss with how to properly deal with a student he had never associated with. “Sister Angrel and I have known each other for nearly twenty years. We were orphaned at the same time, sent to the same Schola, and we were friends for our entire education. As newly graduated Progena, it was the Emperor’s blessing that we were sent to similar postings and still associated with each other in the Imperium of a million worlds. We both took a teaching position here, on Klysus IV, and we grew closer than…either of us expected.” Angrel continued with a blunt statement: “We have been sleeping together for several months now, and our secret has remained safe. The Emperor has blessed us since then, and we have not faltered in either our devotion to the Imperium or our dedication to duty. As I was saying to you before, you must be sure self-gratification does not interfere with your service. Commissar Dahn and I undertook many rigorous incorruptibility and purity tests prior to beginning our relationship, and we have been regularly partaking in these tests since then. We are still loyal servants of the Emperor, and our…love”- a word that obviously did not come easily to Angrel when applied to another person and similarly made Dahn’s mouth twitch- “has not gotten in the way of our loyalty to the Emperor.” Kyandra, still reeling over this discovery, stayed silent. Dahn spoke: “What the Sister Superior says is true, yet our views would not be shared by many. I would have to request that you keep this knowledge to yourself.” Kyandra nodded unsurely. She would do as her superiors told her, as she taught to serve those above her. Angrel said one more thing: “What I said to your earlier still applies in regards to how you should approach your challenge. Place your plight before the Emperor, keep your focus on you spiritual purity and duties as an Imperial servant, and make a decision. And if you decide what I did, make sure your partner understands exactly as you do.” Dahn nodded, as did Kyandra, who, all said and done, had not lost any respect for Angrel in the face of her obvious purity despite her decision. “I understand, Sister Superior. Thank you very much for your advice, and I will tell nobody of yourself and the Commissar.” The man nodded gruffly, ill at ease with Kyandra’s potential power over them. Dahn would probably have to beat some of his students in a combat class to make himself feel better. Angrel turned to Dahn with a slight smirk that, to his slight annoyance, made his heart flutter. “Could you help open this door for us?” Dahn smirked back, and with Angrel’s assistance pried the door open with some difficulty. Something about the involved Sororitas and Commissar working together to pull open the troublesome door greatly amused Kyandra, and she left the room in high spirits. Pushing the door back into the closed position, Angrel turned to Dahn and stroked his arm: “Patience isn’t something they teach Commissars, is it?” Dahn’s expression was the closest thing to a blush that a Commissar could pull of: “Well you Sisters are too close to your students.” Angrel laughed lightly. “Well alright, what sort of amasec did you get this time?” “An expensive one.”
Kyandra, mind whirling with the discovery of the illicit relationship, took a while to notice the students in the hallway rushing around as if they were performing a Naval warp-breach drill. She grabbed the arm of a fellow Sororitas cadet and asked what was happening. The excited woman replied hurriedly: “The Star Fangs! The Space Marines! They are here!”
Morus was accompanied by everyone of sufficient rank in the Schola Progenium he could find on such short notice as he made his way to the visitor’s foyer: Sister Superior Angrel, Commissar Dahn, and Commissar Arick. Dahn and Angrel seemed to be in a bad mood, as if they were in the middle of something important when he contacted them. Morus really couldn’t care less. As the Arch-Confessor of the Klusus IV Progenium, he wielded significant power, yet all of his rank, prestige and personal confidence counted for nothing in the face of the Star Fangs.
He didn’t know why, and he wished they were not here, but they demanded he come to meet them. A group of Star Fangs Astartes had arrived without his knowledge, or the knowledge of any of the Schola’s guards, and were demanding his presence.
That wasn’t a word that often applied to the dealings of others with Morus, but he had encountered the Star Fangs before. When he emerged into the foyer where they waited, it was immediately apparent that his memories of them were perfectly accurate.
They were terrifying.
The room was darker than it normally was, and Morus had to appreciate the company of his senior teachers as he approached the waiting figure in the middle of the room, his face obscured by shadow that seemed out of place but was there nonetheless.
Dahn and Morus managed to conceal as the Space Marine approached, casting a shadow over their group. Angrel looked up at him in respectful awe, and Arick shifted a little.
It always staggered Morus whenever he saw a Space Marine this close. The superhuman was far broader than any man Morus had ever seen (in his time in the Guard he had seen some big men), and must have been nine feet tall. Even for an Astartes, Morus reckoned he was large. However, that was not what disturbed him about this particular Marine.
It was the shadows. The Marine’s face was still concealed, despite his wearing only a hood. There was too much light for the room to be full of shadows, yet all Morus could see was a large, impassive mouth: the rest of the ‘man’s’ face was hidden. The armour was also odd. It was black, blacker than black, and it did not shine at all in the sparse light. It was just a black mass. Morus got the feeling that if the room was darker, the Marine would be very hard to see at all.
Morus spoke first. “Welcome to the Klysus IV Schola Progena, how can a fellow Imperial servant assist you?” The Space Marine made no move to remove his hood. “We are looking for Malus.” Morus gulped. “I-well, I don’t know who that is.” “Bring us Malus.” Morus grimaced, and his palms began to sweat profusely. This Space Marine was certainly a Librarian, and could sense his lies. Morus recalled everything he had been taught recently to block the Psyker’s probing, and responded once more: “My answer remains the same, my Lord Marine.” The Star Fangs Librarian’s mouth pursed, and Morus felt a shiver make its way down his spine. “I am Librarian Kurze. Named after our blessed Primarch.”. Kurze was obviously baiting the fiercely fanatical group accompanying Morus. Dahn could not contain himself: “The Haunter was a traitor to the Imperium and the Emperor, and his soul is burning in eternal damnation, as he deserves!” Angrel’s hand, twitched towards Dahn’s, and Kurze’s mouth jerked as if he was trying to refrain from smiling. “My Brothers and I will be conducting an investigation throughout the Schola. Do not impede us.” “Your brothers?”
Morus reacted with a mild but sharp intake of breath as four more Astartes emerged from different corners of the room. They were massive, and all wreathed in shadow just like Kurze. And they had been standing silently in this not-so-well lit room the whole time without any of the four humans noticing. Not a little offput by the abilities of these Marines to hide in plain sight despite their fully-armoured bulk, Morus spoke unsurely: “Well…you have all my resources at your disposal. But I will have to alert the Schola to your continuing presence.” Kurze’s mouth did that bizarre twitch again, as if he was once more trying to hide amusement. “Do so. And do not discourage the use of the colloquialism you humans have applied to us.” “Which would be?” The four shadowy Astartes moved to flank Kruze. The effect was disturbing, as shadows wreathed the group and the dull white eyes of the Astartes helmets flashed like lightning on a dark night. Morus also found the silence with which these warmachines could walk surprising. “The ‘Scary Marines’.”
Leaving the chamber and allowing the five Star Fangs free passage through the entire school, Morus breathed a sigh of relief to be out of their presence. “I’m a veteran in the war against Chaos and have killed both men and monsters with knives and guns, but I will be honest: these...beings terrify me. Morus’ words seemed to surprise Angrel: “What? I thought they were magnificent. The fear they invoked in myself must be doubled in the hearts of those who are enemies of the Emperor! They are divine instruments of his merciless retribution!” Morus turned to Arick and Dahn: “Thoughts?” Dahn responded first: “They disturb me, and I will not be satisfied until they leave the Schola.” Morus could not help but nod. “Arick?” The other Commissar seemed lost in his thoughts, and snapped to attention as Morus’ words cut into his reverie. “How did they do that thing with the shadows?”
Nayren, Zane, Mathew and Sulam had never seen a Star Fang before, and their first encounter with one would stay with them forever. They were currently in their sleeping quarters, just the four of them. The sleeping quarters was quite large, but everybody else was busy milling around in excitement. Night had fallen and it was both raining and storming outside. The lights were on. “Everyone’s going mad, but I haven’t even seen them yet.” complained Nayren. “I wonder if they’re really as ‘scary’”-Mathew mouthed “oooooooooooh” and twinkled his fingers in mockery, “-as everyone else says”. Zane obviously took the stories of their fearsome demeanour as a challenge. Sulam was silent, for once. “Well, if they’re wandering around the school I’m sure we’ll see the-“ The lights went out. “What in the Empero-“ A flash of lightning lit up the room, and Nayren and Sulam both saw the distinctive shape of a massive, power-armoured warrior in the hallway. When the darkness fell once more, a pair of white eyes remained briefly, and then disappeared. Nayren yelled in surprise. “What!?” Zane asked. “I-I saw…” “What?” “Never mind.” The lights came back on. Sulam was very pale.
Morus paced back and forth behind his desk, hands fidgeting with his mixed military and religious uniform, as he tried to decide his next move. Librarian Kurze and his four Star Fangs had already made their subtle presence felt at the school, terrifying students who swore these massive armoured monsters were there one second and gone the next. This, however, was the least of Morus’ problems. Kurze had made himself clear:
He knew about Malus.
Morus began to sweat as he considered summoning Malus. Kurze would find his warp-presence eventually, and then Malus would have no choice but to manifest in self defence. Many people would die.
The Arch-Confessor did not consider himself a heretic. He did the bidding of Malus in the hope of someday destroying him, and also in the (vain?) hope that he could minimize the damage Malus was capable of doing. Morus struggled with his alliance every day. Ecclesiarchal dogma and old Terran philosophy was clear on the matter: the road to evil is paved with good intentions.
If only he could find out whom Malus’ vessel was, there would be no need for this…
Morus pulled a talisman from a concealed section under his desk, the same altered Pointed-Star of Chaos that Cyrene had seen in her dreams after the scrumball game. It was warm to the touch, and gave off a slight glow that, oddly enough, actually seemed to darken the air around it. Speaking in an ancient Chaos dialect, the Arch-Confessor spoke the words that would summon Malus’ presence: “Malus, servant of the fifth power, Chaos manifest and destroyer combined, your servant summons your warp-spirit to the world of the flesh.” The room darkened, and Morus felt the familiar emotion that accompanied the presence of Malus: melancholy. The summoning was nothing visually spectacular, but the presence of something supernatural weighed heavily on the priest’s mind. “The Star Fangs are here. They are trying to find you.” Malus did not respond right away, but Morus could acutely feel what passed for emotions in such a powerful warp-entity. It seemed the otherworldly being was capable of fear. Morus could not help but gleam some satisfaction from the thought, which Malus sensed in turn. The voice of the daemon itself, however, betrayed no human emotion: “I may feel fear, human, but know that I do not fear you. Nor do I fear the powers of my brothers, the Star Fangs and their Librarian. I curse their power. I am eternal, they have made me this.” Arch-Confessor Morus felt the presence of the daemon shift in his mind, as if the thing was uncomfortable with its own words. “I fear for my host. He is weak in both flesh and mind. You know this. I am all that was strong in him, but without him, neither of us can be what we should be. He must be protected.” Morus nodded. “Remember, Confessor-“, the daemon let some amusement creep into its voice as it said that word, “-I can possess my host at any time at an acceptable cost. You know well that even without full control, I am still Malus. I am destruction. My powers are not that of death and decay drawn from Nurgle, but are of Chaos itself. All the corpse-god oriented faith I sense in this entire Schola will amount for nothing, and if you fail me and force me to manifest prematurely, you will suffer. This school will suffer. The planet will suffer.” Morus’ jaw shifted, and he felt sweat drench his brow. But he remained resolute: “If I fail and you are forced to manifest unprepared, you are vulnerable to Kurze and his Astartes. You will achieve nothing with threats, forfeiting my life is a sacrifice I would be willing to take to see you destroyed. Remember our pact, and only then I will serve you.” The darkness in the room seemed to slightly recede at his defiance. While Malus had to be summoned, he could leave at any given time. Still, despite Morus’ intractability, the daemon’s voice was inscrutable as it spoke once more: “I will have no choice but to uphold the pact if you serve me faithfully. Keep my sacrifice safe.”
Morus took an intake of breath as he considered concealing his latest discovery regarding the…’sacrifice’. However, the life of one person was not worth the deaths of countless others: “Regarding your sacrifice- I have noticed that he has developed an attraction to another student here, a Sororitas cadet. A friend of the woman whom you granted that vision.” “’Granting’ that woman a vision was necessary. While a mortal without the foresight may find this amusing, I saw that my sacrifice would be endangered if the…’game’ they played continued. It was the only was I could distract her. As for the woman who is growing close to my sacrifice, kill her. I already see that she will interfere.” “Kill her!? I refuse.” “You will do it.” “I will not murder a loyal servant of the Emperor…” “I already see that you will. You know what will happen if you break the pact.”
Try as he might, Morus could not help but shed a tear for a loyal servant of the Emperor. The girl must die so that more may live. “V…very well. I will arrange an accident.” “Good. If you do not, the 977 Uprising will happen all over again.” Morus’ lips quivered. “It will be done.” The Arch-Confessor felt the daemon’s presence leave the room. All options had been exhausted- if he killed Malus’ host, the daemon would possess the corpse in response. Damn that bond…
Morus silently renewed the oath he had sworn so long ago: the Star Fangs would pay for their sins.
An hour later, Kyandra was conversing with Cyrene, who had seemed distracted of late. Cyrene could remember nothing of her visit with the Arch-Confessor regarding her vision, and it frustrated her greatly. “Perhaps I should take the Oath of the Penitent!”, Cyrene stated with no small amount of passion. Kyandra immediately rejected the idea: “If the Emperor wishes you to know something, he will grant you another vision. It is not your failure that you have forgotten. Whatever you told Confessor Morus, I’m sure he knew the meaning.” Cyrene seemed anything but convinced: “I no longer trust Morus.” “Why?” “I do not know why. Perhaps the Emperor will tell me.” As Kyandra was about to respond, a message appeared on her Ecclesiarchal Personal Data Assistant, used for everything from recording class notes to prayers to the Emperor. Cyrene frowned, and as she read the message, Kyandra’s eyes widened in surprise. “What is it?” “N-nothing. I have to go.” Cyrene glared as Kyandra left the room in a hurry.
Nayren wanted to see her in the disposal chambers. What could he want, and why would he want to meet here there?
Nayren, however, was completely unaware of this requested meeting.
Kyandra hurried through the darkened hallways of the night time Schola, utilizing her basic stealth-training to avoid attracting any undue attention. Commissar Dahn and Sister Angrel were on patrol tonight, and their relationship did not interfere with their duties in the slightest. Students were not to be out of their rooms after curfew, and her discovery would result in harsh punishments.
So why would Nayren run such a risk? Surely there were ample opportunities for him to talk to her during the day.
As she made her way through the long hallways, arched domes and adjoining rooms to the main waste disposal chambers, she got the feeling that she was not alone. Her hairs stood on end, and she could swear she was seeing slight movements in the darkness. She straightened her back. With the Emperor by her side, what terrors could the darkness possibly hold?
Little did Kyandra know that there were three forces currently at play in regards to her. Firstly, one of Morus’ agents was keeping an eye on her as she made her way to the ambush position. Secondly, Cyrene had decided to follow Kyandra out of suspiscion, and was ghosting along a fair distance behind her.
And thirdly, in the darkness, Libarian Kurze lurked noiselessly. He wore his helmet, and Kyandra could swear that she saw two sinister white eyes staring out at her from the darkness before disappearing. The Librarian followed her, somehow staying out of her line of sight despite his huge bulk and moving completely silently. The Star Fangs called this method of stalking “ghosting”, and it involved the utilisation of supreme bodily control, unparalleled stealth skills, slightly modified power armour, and minor psychic powers. All Star Fangs Astartes possessed psychic powers at a level enough to allow “ghosting”. They were called the Scary Marines for a reason, after all: they did not kill their prey. They hunted them. The elite infiltrators of the First Company could make their way into a locked room, cut the throat of an occupant, and leave without anyone knowing they were ever there.
Kurze scowled. Nobody could know of the Chapter’s secrets. And while he still breathed, Malus and the budding rebellion on Klusus IV would be snuffed out. The 977 Uprising would not repeat itself. The lapse in vigilance of the Star Fangs had cost the chapter greatly, and resulted in the deaths of many thousands of innocents. Mostly at the hands of the Star Fangs themselves.
Kurze continued to ghost Kyandra silently, his enhanced vision and prodigious psychic talent allowing him to remain hidden to the human assassin and both Sororitas cadets, as he continued his train of thought.
The reasons for his being selected to lead the five Marine team to crush this rebellion were threefold: Firstly, he was a respected member of the Chapter’s Librarium and was completely privy to all of their darkest secrets, and his knowledge of the situation was therefore unrivalled. Secondly, he was a veteran of the 977 Uprising and one of the leading theorists on how the Star Fangs should approach future internal schisms. And thirdly, he possessed a great deal of discretion that many in the Star Fangs lacked. Being a loyalist splinter of the cursed Night Lords legion (one of many closely guarded secrets), the Star Fangs were loyal to the Emperor yet approached their duty in a very unique manner. Darkness and the fear of the unknown were cornerstones of their operational doctrines, and it is their remarkable ability to kill enemies in the dead of night without being seen that earned their nickname, the ‘Scary Marines’. As far as Space Marine chapters went, the Star Fangs could almost be considered hermits, but under certain circumstances, it was they that were chosen by Segmentum Command to intervene. Such circumstances varied, but the Star Fangs always operated in a similar manner: commencing hostilities with weeks or even months of terror tactics and assassinations before launching an all out assault under cover of darkness, appearing from pre-coordinated positions to annihilate their foes.
As such, the Star Fangs were a chapter of merciless killers for whom the end always justified the means. During the 977 Uprising, the Star Fangs had ensured local PDF forces stayed completely uninvolved so that the acts of the dark Astartes could not be witnessed. The rebellion officially lasted two weeks, but was actually crushed in scant days. The leader of the rebels, a failed Star Fang Astartes, was defeated on the third day of the fighting by the chapter Shroudlord (a customized title equivalent to Chapter Master), and dragged terribly wounded back to the Star Fang Monastery’s excruciation chambers to be interrogated. He was tortured to death, and his daemonsword was interred inside the Monastery, though shortly after it disappeared.
Having dealt with the heresy at hand, the Star Fangs’ main concern was making sure nobody knew of the secrets they had guarded so jealously for millennia. As such, they spent the majority of the two weeks that the rebellion officially lasted exterminating the civilian population of Klysus that had not been able to evacuate before the city was quarantined. Kurze knew it was necessary, but in the future he had sworn to do all in his power to avert such drastic measures.
And that is what brought Kurze and four Star Fangs First Company brethren to the Schola Progenium. A daemon named Malus had appeared, and the disappearance of the daemonsword was believed to be the cause. Interestingly enough, the entire conspiracy heavily involved a few select students. The woman Kurze was following, Kyandra, was one of them. Kurze had noticed that the Sister-cadet and a Commissar-cadet named Nayren had formed an attraction, and that Malus was interested in this was all too apparent. The other woman, Cyrene, was also of interest.
Arch-Confessor Morus must be in league with the daemon. He would have to be dealt with soon.
In the meantime, Kurze had decided protecting Kyandra was a top priority. If the girl’s death meant something to Malus and his lackey, Morus, then it was worth stopping. The girl would have to be questioned.
Kurze stopped and concealed himself behind unnatural shadows as Cyrene made her way past his huge frame. Kurze noticed that both Cyrene and the assassin were aware of each other, and both were armed.
Depending on how many assassins were waiting for Kyandra at the ambush point, much blood could be spilled this night.