Meet the Primarchs (Warhammer High)
|This article contains PROMOTIONS! Don't say we didn't warn you.|
Here are collected all of the Meet the Primarch stories from the Warhammer High project. Please note that none of these stories are set in stone, and that authors from the WHH project often disregard them entirely as they see fit.
- 1 Meeting Angron
- 2 Meeting Alpharius
- 3 Meeting The Lion
- 4 Meeting Sanguinius
- 5 Meeting Roboute Guilliman
- 6 Meeting Perturabo
- 7 Meeting Ferrus Manus
- 8 Meeting Lorgar
- 9 Meeting Konrad Curze
- 10 Meeting Fulgrim
- 11 Meeting Magnus the Red
- 12 Meeting Corax
- 13 Meeting Leman Russ
- 14 Meeting Mortarion
- 15 Meeting Rogal Dorn
- 16 Meeting Vulkan
- 17 Meeting Jaghatai Khan
- 18 Meeting Horus
- 19 Meeting 'The Lost'
Kevin checked the address that Furia had given him earlier that day, between classes. Yep, this was the place. It would have read 'Angron' on the mailbox, but the G and R had fallen off. He still couldn't believe that Furia had asked him on a date. Well, not a date per se, but she had at least asked him to pick her up which was as close as you could get with Furia. Kevin always had a crush on her, but like every other boy in school, he was too scared of getting his front teeth knocked in to ask her out. Lucky for him she was the kind of girl who would ask first. On the whole drive over Kevin had wondered why she'd asked him out. He was nothing if not average. His hair was dirty blond and usually a mess, his eyes were plain and brown, he wasn't built, he wasn't rich, and they hardly had any of the same interests. Maybe it was all his metal tees. Maybe it was his truck. It was a pretty bitchin' truck.
At the end of the driveway Furia was sitting on the stoop, her arms resting on her knees and a cigarette resting between her fingers. She'd changed out of her school uniform and into torn jeans and a band tee so faded it wasn't even clear which band it was anymore. "Hey, you're late," she said, blowing a plume of smoke out from between her lips.
"Oh, ya, sorry." Kevin sputtered, rubbing the back of his neck. "So, uh, what do you want to do?"
Furia took another drag and threw her other hand into the air. "Fuck, I dunno. Do I gotta do everything? We'll go throw rocks at the speeder factory or something." Kevin liked that about Furia. Scary as she was, she was still pretty down to earth. No fancy restaurants or flowers required like with Victoria. She had pretty simple tastes.
"HEY YOU LITTLE BITCH, GET BACK HERE!!" The sudden shout from behind the house startled the birds out of the trees for miles and made Kevin nearly jump out of his skin. That must have been Angron, Furia's dad. Kevin suddenly understood why she was so angry all the time. He couldn't believe he talked to her that way. When he looked back at her he was surprised to find she was wearing that little smirk he liked so much.
"What?" he asked, puzzled.
"What do you mean, what?" she said. "He was talking to you. Better get back there. If he has to come out front he'll be REALLY pissed." Kevin found it hard to believe that Angron could get any more angry than that shout had sounded. Furia leaned forward and punched Kevin in the thigh, which hurt like a son of a bitch. "Come on shitbird, move your ass."
Kevin swallowed hard and tried to keep his knees from clattering together. He really had to go meet with Furia's father? This was a nightmare. It took all of his effort put keep putting one foot in front of the other until he was around the side of the house and into the back yard.
It was hard to miss Angron once he was out there. It seemed like he filled up the entire yard from shoulder to shoulder and the fence around the place hardly seemed worth it since his head cleared the top of it by nearly three feet. He was wearing a sleeveless shirt which put biceps on display that were easily as big around as the boy's waist. Kevin felt like he was about to piss himself.
"There you are," Angron boomed, leveling Kevin with the most intense stare he had ever endured. Any worse and he might just catch on fire. "What took you so long? Get over here."
Kevin swallowed again and closed the gap between them, then extended his hand. "H-hello Mr. Angron, I'm Kevin."
Angron struck a match on the side of his cheek and lit the cig hanging between his lips, then looked up at the boy with the perhaps the most uninterested expression in known history. "Why would I want to know that?" Angron flicked the spent match over Kevin's shoulder right past his ear then reached to his side and hefted the axe that was resting against the house into his hands. It was the largest axe Kevin had ever seen. The head was vicious looking. It was jet black and probably three feet from top to bottom but Angron held it in one hand. "Now get down there and hold that log."
Kevin looked bewildered. Log? Angron pointed the head of his axe down at the boy's feet where a 'log', or more accurately a three foot diameter tree trunk, that was too uneven to stand on the chopping block lie. Kevin's eyes went wide. The first thought that went through his head was how he was going to get that behemoth up on the chopping block. It must have weighed more than he did. Then the rest of the equation sunk in. The axe, the uneven log, and half a ton of angry space marine father. Oh dear God Emperor. "Wait, what?!" Kevin exclaim.
Angron was testing the edge of his massive axe with his thumb and looked less than pleased. It seemed to be his default. "Are you fucking deaf AND useless? I said hold that fucking log, limpdick!" Kevin moved so fast he was afraid he might break his neck. Before he knew how he'd done it Kevin had wrestled the log up onto the chopping block and had his hands shaking on either side of it. "That's more like it," Angron grunted from around his cigarette and cradled the axe in both massive hands.
I'm going to die, Kevin thought as Angron aimed the head of the axe on the log between his palms. I'm going to die and nobody will ever find the body.
"So, Calvin," Angron began, wringing his hands on the handle of the axe.
"I-It's Kevin, sir."
"DON'T YOU INTERRUPT ME, YOU INSOLENT LITTLE SHIT!" Angron roared, gritting his teeth so hard they cut right through the filter of his cigarette. He spit the rest of the cotton wad out, bouncing it off of Kevin's head, and took a deep breath. "Fuckin' A...anyway, Calvin, I hear you're gonna go out with my little girl."
"Quit calling me sir. I ain't no silver-topped old pantshitter. Just don't even talk, you're making the log shake. Good way to lose a fucking arm." Angron chuckled at that and made a slow test swing at the log. Kevin felt his balls nearly pull up into his chest. "That's some funny shit. I remember back about a hundred years ago I lopped off some xeno fairy's arm right at the shoulder. HA! He goes dancing around bleeding all over the place screamin' in his yarpy xeno babble. I laughed so hard I couldn't even lift my axe to cut him in half before he bled out. Heh, good times." Angron smiled, which may have been the scariest thing Kevin had ever seen. It war more like the manic grin of some horrible Warp beast about to eat a guardsman than anything even close to human enjoyment.
"Anyway, you take care of my little girl while you're out, ya hear me?" Kevin wondered if Angron had ever even met his daughter. The girl had kicked half of the school's asses, including the captains of the boxing and judo teams. How was he, a skinny kid who'd never been in a fight in his life, supposed to defend Furia against something she couldn't beat into submission? He decided the best course of action was to just nod. It was almost all he could do at this point. Holding the massive log still for so long had his arms burning, but there was no way he was going to drop it and tempt Angron's rage. "Good," Angron said. "Now just remember: You make Furia cry," Angron paused and raised the massive axe over his head and with a grunt of effort brough the head down like a black ceramite guillotine. The head seemed to meet no resistance at all as it sheered through the log until -CRACK!- it hit the chopping block beneath it. "I make you cry. Got me?"
Kevin felt like he was about to vomit so hard that his feet would come through his mouth. Shaking like a leaf on a tree, the boy nodded and slowly rose to his feet. "Great," said Angron with a grin, seemingly taking some sick joy in the boy's fear. "Now get the fuck out of here, and don't forget to check your drawers. Heh."
Kevin fought the urge to flat out run from the back yard and scampered back to the front stoop as quickly as he could walk. Furia was smoking a new cigarette and staring up at the clouds when Kevin rounded the corner. His favorite smirk crept back onto her plush pink lips and a chuckle bubbled out. "You look like you seen a Warp spawn. The fuck is wrong with you?"
Kevin wiped a cold sweat from his brow and used all his will to stop himself from shaking. "N-nothing. I'm good. I'm totally good."
Furia got up and laughed even more. "Whatever, scardy-pants. Grow a fucking spine." She punched him again, this time in the shoulder, the motioned to his truck with her thumb. "Lets go. We'll get some beer and then head over to the speeder factory."
Kevin had to smile at that. Meeting Angron was probably the most frightening thing he had ever experienced...but that was all okay. He watched Furia's tight rear strut away and hop into the driver's seat of his truck, then fire it up. Right then Kevin decided he'd do it all again in a heart beat if he got another chance. Furia put the truck in gear and started to back away without him.
"Hey! Wait for me!" Kevin shouted, running for the passenger side door...
"Oh good, you're here early." Alpharia beckoned me in, and I stepped inside. She stepped back to give me a once-over, and I shifted a little. I was, to be honest, feeling a bit out of my league, but I'd dressed up the best I could before coming to pick her up. It would be my first time meeting her father, and I wanted to make the best impression I could. "If you'll give me just a bit to tidy up, I'll get Omegan and we can get going."
"Okay." I smiled weakly, as she ran off into the hallway. I rocked on my heels, taking in the expansive room that served as her home's foyer. Then I started whistling. I checked my watch. It hadn't been more than two minutes since she ran off and I was already feeling my stomach sinking. Part of me hoped that I would be able to get out without meeting the legendary Alpharius.
Let me take a moment to preface. I am not the first guy that Alpharia and Omegan showed interest in (though I do kinda hope I'll be the last). The few guys that they had brought to their father, however, came back as gibbering messes who, shortly afterward, transferred schools. Nobody knew quite what happened, but it had something to do with Alpharius, and nobody was brave enough to ask.
Another few minutes passed and my nervousness grew. Then, I heard a drifting voice from somewhere call out, "Please, sit down, we'll be ready shortly." Hesitantly, I walked over to one of the chairs and sat down. I could feel the sweat starting to come. I tried deep breathing to calm myself down, and it actually worked a little bit. Then, suddenly, a pair of hands covered my eyes. "Boo."
I couldn't help but smile. I reached up and peeled them off, then stood up and turned to smile at Alpharia. "Ready to go? But where's Omegan?"
"Oh, she'll be coming in a minute. As it turns out, daddy's working late so he won't be here in time for you to meet him."
I was honestly a little torn. I was, on the one hand, somewhat relieved to be spared the experience, and on the other, a little disappointed that I wasn't going to meet him. I voiced the latter. "Really? Damn. I was kinda looking forward to meeting him."
She tilted her head. "Seriously? Every other guy we've brought home kept wanting to get out before they could meet him."
"Well, sure, I'm a bit nervous, but if he's your father, he has to be a hell of a guy."
"Aw, you're too sweet."
Then I heard footsteps from the hallway, and turned to greet Omegan.
Because Alpharia and Omegan were standing in the hallway, staring at me and Alpharia holding hands in the foyer.
Then the Alpharia in the hallway pointed at the Alpharia next to me, and yelled "DAD!"
I turned and looked at Alpharia, who turned and looked back at me with a knowing smirk. "Dad?" I whispered hoarsely.
"Dad." She nodded.
Some fifteen minutes later, I regained cognitive function. At some point during my mild panic attack, Alpharius had decided he had had enough of pretending to be his daughter, and had instead returned to his original form. I was a little curious where the extra three feet of height had disappeared, but I was too worried that he would tell me the truth to ask.
Alpharia and Omegan were flushed, sitting on either side of me and tossing angry looks at their dad and worried looks at me, both holding onto one hand as though they were afraid that I, like the others, was going to haul ass and get out of there. Honestly, even if I had wanted to leave, I don't think my legs were obeying orders to move yet. So I sat there, feeling ashamed and incredibly nervous as Alpharius sat down in the chair across the table from me, and gave me a very serious look. He laced his fingers together, and rested his chin on his hands.
"I want to apologize for pulling that trick. Normally, I make it a habit of introducing myself normally, but I believe you are familiar with how my daughters' other suitors have reacted to that. So I opted to try a less traditional approach. I'll have to amend my approach for the next one, I suppose."
At this point, despite my earlier episode, I had to say something. "What makes you think there's going to be a next one?"
I heard Omegan gasp, but didn't look away from Alpharius. His facial expression didn't change, but I could feel him giving me another look. "Indeed, I could be mistaken. In fact, I hope I am. Nobody they've brought home before has had the nerve to suggest that they'll be the lucky one." I wasn't sure, but I swore I could see the slightest hint of a smile on his face. "Well, if you're not running screaming just yet, I suppose that's a mark in your favor."
"Indeed." A rumbling voice came from behind.
To my credit, I did not pass out again, nor did I pee myself.
I did, however, scream. Not long, but I did.
My chair tipped back and I was looking into the eyes of a man who looked exactly like Alpharius. I didn't know who he was, but dealing with one of them was hard enough. If I had to deal with two...
"Uncle Omegon!" Alpharia cheered, and promptly let go of my hand to hug him.
Now then," Alpharius began, abruptly turning everyone's attention back toward him, "I would like to discuss logistics."
"L-logistics?" I stammered.
"In a manner of speaking. Given you have yet to leave, I assume you're dedicated to taking my daughters out on a date. I appreciate that dedication. I should note that I tapped your phone about three months ago when you started to express interest in my daughters. So I know your itinerary for the evening, and have taken care of making certain that you have the best staff available to make this experience as smooth and pleasant as possible."
I was a little off-put by the mention that my phone had been tapped even before I started going out with them, but I didn't even have a chance to protest before Omegan cut in.
"Oh no, you didn't get Ingo to drive us, did you? Please tell me you didn't."
"I will not say that I did not order my first captain to chauffeur you. Nor will I say that I did not have Herzog and his team replace most of the staff at the restaurant you will be visiting. Or that Omegon hasn't placed Effrit Squad at the movie theater you will be going to in order to ensure that nobody speaks during the film."
I had been aware beforehand, of course, that Alpha Legion was known for being incredibly thorough in preparation and execution. But I was not quite aware of how much that extended beyond just military operations. I would have felt honored, of course, but like any male following the stories, I knew full well the reputation that Ingo Pech and Matthias Herzog had developed for both cunning and ruthlessness on the battlefield.
That, and Omegan had regaled me once or twice with stories of how Ingo Pech drove, and I was not looking forward to that experience at all.
I could see Omegan facepalming out of the corner of my eye, but I forced myself to smile. "I appreciate the forethought, sir."
"Don't lie to me, boy." He said. "I can see that you're more than a little disturbed."
"Well, I've never had the honor of having Alpha Legion's infamous tactical acumen focused on my date, sir. It's a little overwhelming."
"Better." Alpharius nodded. "This evening has been planned down until the end of your itinerary. Here, the plan branches. If the evening goes well and you make a suitable impression on my soldiers and my daughters, I will allow Pech to relinquish the car to you, with the request that you have my daughters home before late tomorrow night. If you prove to be less than worthy, they will be back here before eleven o'clock, and you will be in a very untenable situation. Do you understand?"
I gulped. "Yes sir."
"Very good. Then Pech is waiting outside. Have a good time, girls." He gave me a slight smile. "And I hope that you're the man I think you are, and that this will not be the last time we meet on good terms."
Meeting The Lion
As I pulled up to the house I couldn't believe my eyes, it was like someone had taken a time machine and pulled a mansion out of 1910 and plopped it here in the modern day. There was only one word to describe it: stately.
After knocking on the door I was greeted by an impeccably dressed servitor who asked me to take a seat in the foyer and that his mistress would be down shortly.
As I was sitting there my thoughts drifted to Lyra's father, she had told me that he had decided it was time for me to meet him. I must admit I was a little intimidated by this prospect. If he was anything like Lyra, I knew I would be dealing with a man whose razor sharp intelligence would feel like it could cut me in two and whose -
A voice interrupted my thoughts. "Evening, son." the voice said from behind me. I snapped to attention and turned around to see the Lion himself standing there hand outstretched. His cool eyes seemed to take me in and figure me out all at once. "Evening sir," I managed to say as I extended my hand, proud of myself for not letting how startled I was show in my voice.
After shaking my hand (which I was amazed I got back in one piece after feeling the power behind his handshake) he gestured for me to sit again and and he took a place on the couch opposite of me.
"Lyra is almost ready," he said "but in the meantime, tell me a little about yourself." His words were casual, but from his eyes could tell that my words would be judged very carefully. He didn't move except for the occasional nod as I told him about myself. The only time I noticed a change in his demeanor was when I mentioned my participation in the literary club, which was were I had met Lyra.
As I finished speaking I heard the sound of someone coming down the stairs. I turned to see Lyra standing there looking perfect as she always did with WD on her shoulder. "Dad," her soft voice slightly reproachful, "I thought you were going to wait until I was down here to interrogate him."
The look that passed between the two of them said more then the entirety of what I said to the Lion about myself. The Lion smiled as he responded, "Sorry sweetie, I was just helping your friend here pass the time as we waited for you. Besides I wan-"
An earthshaking roar stopped the Lion in mid sentence. "JOHNSON!" a beastly voice roared. "You kids have fun," her father said quietly, "I have something I need to take care of." With that he strode out the door shouting "RUSS!" at the top of his lungs. Though he sounded angry I could see the hint of a smile playing at the corner of his mouth.
"Wh-what was th-that?" I managed to stammer. Lyra smiled in that all knowing way of hers, "That was Mr. Russ," she laughed, "I expect he and dad are going to have another of their famous brawls." "But why?" I asked, confused.
"Officially? Because of something one or the other did, but that's just an excuse for them to fight. They do it because it's fun. But never mind that, let's get going shall we?" She said as she took my hand and led me towards the back door. The sounds of what must have been an epic fight coming from outside.
The distant ringing of my alarm clock proves to be a minor irritant, something that continually drums upon my ears as I try to get back to sleep. Giving up, I take a look at the noisy device. Glancing at the window, I noticed that it looks bright outside.
8am. Screw this shit, I am going back to sleep. It is a Saturday, I spent the whole of yesterday running around the school on a fool's errand, and I want to sleep in today. I vaguely remember that there was something I was supposed to do this morning, but I could not recall what it was, try as I might.
I must have slept for less than 15 mins before I heard the door to my room open, awakening me again. Someone walked in and closed the door. I heard that someone approach my bed. It must be my kid sister trying to play a prank on me. I thought it would be a good idea to feign sleep and scare the living daylights out of her, and so I did so.
Oh wait. That voice... oh shit.
"Michael... I know you are awake. You cannot fool a Primarch's daughter, especially when she has been waking you up ever since the two of us were little kids."
That got my attention. I sat up lazily, and my eyes opened to the sight of my childhood friend. She was dressed in a short skirt and white shirt, her hands crossed disapprovingly across her ample chest. Her small wings at her back were waving leisurely, as though they were greeting me in lieu of her hands. And her perfect face was looking at me, with the usual aloof expression that she always wore.
"Angela." I muttered.
"What's with today? It's a Saturday, and I want to sleep in," I said, while suppressing a yawn.
"Sleep in? You sure have some guts to say that, you worm. Have you forgotten what you promised me yesterday?" Angela asked as she walked over to my bedside.
"No, I can't remember.What did I pro- ARGH! STOP! STOP! IT'S PAINFUL! ARRRGH!"
Angela was biting my neck before I could finish my sentence. She always does that to me whenever I annoy her, and her bite will always draw blood without fail. I have gotten bitten by her countless times over the years, ever since we were kids. The bites did not hurt at first, and in fact felt strangely good. That was in the past though. Angela's bites these days caused both pain and pleasure in equal measure, in a sensual way that I would never admit.
With experience from being bitten came knowledge on how to counter her. I moved to rub Angela's wings and was rewarded with Angela stopping her assault upon my neck, AND a moan from her.
I continued to rub her wings. Payback for biting my neck.
"Ah... Don't stop... I mean, stop... Ah.. Michael, I am going to kill you for this.. Ah.."
This carried on for a full 30 seconds before I stopped. Angela was in a totally different state by now, blushing, embarrassed and resting her head beside me. I liked her that way.
"You jerk. I hate it when you touch my wings."
"And I hate it when you bit my neck."
Both of us were lying. Angela never bit the neck of anyone else except mine, and she never allowed anyone else to touch her wings. The last person to touch her wings received a full-scale drop pod assault from a company of the Blood Angels Legion who "happened to be in the neighbourhood." The rest of the school learnt the lesson quickly.
"Hmph. Serves you right for forgetting what we were supposed to be doing today."
"Right... Indulge me, my lady." I asked as I got out of bed and opened up my bottle of drinking water, while she got up and straightened herself. "What were we supposed to be doing today?"
"We are meeting my father for breakfast in the garden of the Emperor's Palace."
I nearly puked out the content of my drink. Meeting Lord Sanguinius for breakfast? What the hell?
I have never met Lord Sanguinius before, even though Angela lived right beside my place. The Angel had acquired a house for his beloved daughter and entrusted the care of Angela to my parents, who happened to the first individuals he met in this neighbourhood, while he went off to lead his Legion to fight in the Emperor's Crusade. That was how Angela and me came to be childhood friends. Close childhood friends, it has to be said.
"I thought we were supposed to be having breakfast, just you and I? In fact you asked me to meet up for a breakfast yesterday. You said nothing about your father or the Emperor's Palace!"
"Oh, NOW your memory returns. Oh, and my grandfather MIGHT join us, if he has the time." smirked Angela, her wings flapping slowly as she moved her hands to her hips.
I hate it when she does that.
"9.30am at the Eternity Gate of the Emperor's Palace. It's 8.30am now. What will you do, Michael?"
"Freaking change, that's what. Dammit girl, why do you have to do this to me.."
I was taking off my pajamas when I realized Angela was still in the room and observing me with great interest.
"Well?" I asked.
"Well what?" came the cheeky reply.
"Angela, I am changing, Would you please get out of the room while I am changing?"
"Are you messing with me?"
That was it. I carried her up in my arms, walked to door of my room, deposited her outside my room and closed the door. I could hear gentle laughter from the other side of the door.
The Emperor help me if Angela was a chip off the old block. This was going to be a nerve-wracking morning.
It took me only 10 minutes to dress up and spruce up, a personal record by my lousy standards. Throughout this time, I could hear Angela in the hallway, pacing up and down and stopping by my room door now and then, before continuing on.
I know her well enough to sense that she was nervous. But nervous from what? From seeing her father? From possibly seeing her grandfather AKA The Emperor himself? She should not be the one getting worried. If anything I should be the one crapping in my pants.
Lastly, knowing Angela so well, I dread to know what can shake her from the natural confidence that she wore like a second skin.
Pushing all these thoughts to the back of my mind, I opened the door to find Angela waiting right outside my room, almost as if she knew the exact moment when I would be done. And she very well might, considering some of the rumours of the fantastic powers that Sanguinius and the rest of the Primarchs wielded. Who knows how much of that power has been passed on to their progeny?
"Ready? She asked.
"Yeah, ready. Let's go." I replied, as I walked towards the stairs to the first floor with Angela a step behind me. Only when I opened the front gate of the house did I notice the obvious problem.
"Angela, we are at least 45 mins away from the Palace itself if we go by bike, so the timing is going to be a close thing. Putting that aside, how are we going to get into the Palace?"
"Oh, that." She smiled, as her beautiful eye flashed with a gleam of mischief, her wings neatly folded against her back.
That smile was one that I had learnt to be wary of over the years. Mere acquaintances would be easily taken in by that angelic smile, but I know better.
Angela removed a small communicator from a pocket, and spoke into it.
"Raldoron, you can come and pick us up now."
The reply was immediate.
"Yes, my Lady."
The next thing I knew, I heard the ear-shattering roar of jet engines, and a blood red shuttle-like vehicle was landing right in front of my house, it's retro-boosters firing at full strength and it's landing gears extended.
I knew that craft from my studies. It was a Thunderhawk, commonly used by the Space Marine Legions for combat deployment. This particular Thunderhawk displayed the colour and emblem of the Blood Angels Legion, which could only mean one thing.
"Come, Michael," said Angela as she held my hands, leading me to the open frontal ramp of the Thunderhawk. "We do not want to keep my father waiting, do we?"
Alternative Meeting Sanguinius
Sanguinius stared down at the young man in front of him. Despite the Primarch's stature in power armor, this man- but a child before him- stared up and met his gaze without flinching, without fear. It took him aback, and simultaneously gladdened him and made his blood boil. How dare he? How dare he look upon any Space Marine with anything but awe, how dare he date the daughter of a Primarch? Sanguinius flared his wings almost involuntarily, as he saw this young man kiss *his* daughter. The nerve! When she left to collect her things for the night ahead, Sanguinius drew his wings behind him and spoke with purposeful softness.
“If I might have a word with you in private, my son?”
“Sure thing, sir.”
The adjacent room had been lined with books, but it had yet to become a study.
“Are you fully aware of your situation, child?”
“I would think so, sir.”
“Are you mad?”
“Sir, no sir.”
“Are you stupid?”
“Sir, no sir.”
“Then why do you insist on dating my daughter? What makes you think you're worthy?”
“With all due respect, sir, fuck your shit.”
“You heard me.”
Before knew it, the Primarch had his sword at the boy's throat, yet the boy himself had not moved. He had not flinched, he had not even blinked.
“Where, child, did you find such audacity?”
The boy walked forward, scaled Sanguinius' armor, and looked him in the eye.
“Your daughter is the best thing to happen to me, ever. I paint miniature icons for a living, she's... herself. Every bit of logic says I shouldn't even look at her, and yet here we are. I am the luckiest guy on the face of this planet or any other, in the history of history. Do you really think you can scare me away from her?”
“Yes, child. Only the mad and the foolish would not fear my wrath.”
“Well that's love. Stupid and crazy.”
Sanguinius brush a blonde lock of hair away from his face and stared into the eyes of this fiery young man. Softly brown, yet blazing like the fury of a sun's heart. Staring defiantly at an angel above all others, a mighty and wise warrior, for the hand of his daughter. The Primarch felt a smile break.
“Have her back by eleven- and you know the rule: break her heart, I break you.”
“Of course, sir.”
“And please, call me Carmine.”
“You got it, Carmine.”
“Terras Gaius, what are you doing?” the girl's voice sounded from behind him- he could just hear her hands on her hips.
“Your dad wanted to know when I'm bringing you home.”
“Oh dad... I could have told you that! Now come on, we're going to miss the movie.”
“Behave, Gaius,” the Primarch chided.
“Well, sir, since you asked me to call you Carmine... all my friends call me T.G.”
Meeting Roboute Guilliman
The deep voice from the next room was stern but kindly.
"Young lady, while you live under my roof you will obey my rules, understand? When you move on you can make your own decisions. Although I hope you'll take to heart these lessons."
"Fine" Roberta said, audibly annoyed. She stuck her head around the doorway and spoke quickly to her boyfriend.
"Dad wants to talk to you."
"Don't make it sound like such a chore, darling." chuckled the deeper voice. "Come in, my boy. It's alright."
The young man swallowed and stepped into the lion's den.
The room was vast and brightly lit. Cabinets filled with trophies lined the walls, immaculately framed pennants and medals occasionally spacing them out. Roberta sat on the arm of one large sofa. She smiled briefly before rolling her eyes and nodding towards her father.
He was magnificent, there was no denying it. Even reclining in a large armchair he dominated the room, exuding an aura of pure strength. His blue poloshirt stretched taut against hard muscles, his blue eyes sparkled with good natured humour. He smiled warmly and gestured for the young man to sit down.
"Thank you Mr. Guilliman."
"Oh please, nobody calls me that any more. Call me 'my Liege'..."
"Ha! Don't worry, old army joke. Seriously, just call me Dad."
"Oh... um... Ok."
"So, my little Princess has been talking a lot about you. I'm impressed! Good grades, sportsman, excellent attendance. That's good. Shows discipline. I like that. I wrote the book on it, actually. I don't suppose you've read it? No? Have this one. Author's copy, I've got a million of them. I give one to all of my baby's potential boyfriends. Most have one of their own already, but it never hurts to be sure."
Sam heard Roberta groan and mutter "Here we go again". Feeling as though he was failing some test somehow, he tried to regain control of the conversation.
"Uh... lots of trophies here, sir."
"Ah yes, I was quite the competitor in the old days. Used to play professionally even. Probably before your time, but I'll give you a hint - blue and white uniforms, U shaped logo. That's all I'm saying. Plus some army memorabilia, service awards, that sort of thing."
Roberta coughed irritably
"Oh yes, and Roberta keeps her own awards here, don't you honey? Just this shelf at the moment, but that'll change soon. She's like her old man in that respect, isn't that right honey? The ol' Guilliman genes."
Roberta groaned and exited quickly, saying
"I've had enough of this. Sam, I'll meet you out front in a minute. Later Dad."
Roboute smiled warmly and waved after his daughter.
"Good bye, honey, be back by nine. Remember, family rules!"
Sam got up to follow her, but was held in place by the larger man's hand on his shoulder.
"Son, I'm going to give you some advice. I love my daughter. I love her very much, and I want only what's best for her. I suggest you think long and hard about whether it would be better if you were just friends. She's heading for the top, and she might want someone a little more.... how can I put this... compatible?"
Sam swallowed and said "Maybe she should choose who she wants to be with, Mr. Guilliman"
Guilliman grip increased slightly, the mask of civility dropping for a fraction of a second. Then he laughed and slapped Sam on the back.
"Maybe you're right. Perhaps I'm overreacting. Go on, get out, I've got a phone call to make.
Guilliman waited until he heard the door close again before he reached for the phone.
"Orar? Yeah, it's me. I'm fine, thanks for asking. And yourself? Good, good. How's that boy of yours? He must have grown quite a bit since I last saw him...
"So...", Perturabo had drawled, a pair of spectacles resting at the tip of his nose whose ornate frames were most certainly custom made by him.
The huge man leaned back in his throne, the room's dim light bouncing off the slab of metal that formed his desk. His office was organized chaos— everything laid about in a way that would only make sense to him— the place of an artist, an architect, and a scholar. Handcrafted birdcages hanging from the cieling— some empty, some with birds gently cooing — shelves filled with books of every topic from vintage to more contemporary works shared the same space as gilded eggs and other small and intricate clockwork devices, as well as various boxes of tools and drafting kits. His desk was of even greater disarray, loose piles of philosophical treatises, schematics for various machines, small scale blueprints of architectural marvels yet to be built, small tools meant for a jeweler, not to mention a host of cogs, springs, screws that were most assuredly handcrafted by with utmost care. But even while being in a place filled with such wonderful things, all the boy sitting across from Perturabo could see where those eyes. Those terrible, piercing, ice blue eyes staring right into his heart and soul. They never left the young man's face, ever searching for some sign of weakness, some hint of future treachery.
"...You wish to take my daughter with you on a date?"
The word 'date' was said with such icy politeness that it was a wonder that the frozen phrase did not drop out of the air and shatter into a million pieces upon the hard surface of the table. The boy swallowed and nodded uneasily.
Perturabo leaned forward with a predatory look in his eye.
"Why do you wish to date my daughter? It is a simple question. And the one chance you have to convince me why I should let you. Answer, or I’ll have you escorted from my home."
Perturabo removed his glasses, closed his eyes and massaged his temple before speaking in a low, menacing monotone.
"You try my patience, boy. I shall ask you one last time: why do you wish to spend time with my daughter outside of the normal educational environment? Her time is limited. She has much to learn. She is the one thing that I care about above all others. And I promise you that you shall get nothing from her that I do not wish her to give.”, Perturabo had stood up from his throne and leaned in towards the young man, “Now... ANSWER ME!", he shouted, the birds now quiet in their cages.
Perturabo had stared at him for one long, uncomfortable minute before settling back into his throne.
"Now that wasn’t very hard, now was it? Very well, then. Truth be told, I have the utmost faith in my daughter being able find a decent suitor. But like I said, there are very few people I hold as close to my heart as I do with her. She’s a woman of very high standards which leads me to believe that she sees something special in you.”
His hardened expression had softened lightly as the faintest smile played on his lips.
“She awaits you in the atrium. I expect her back at a reasonable time...”
“Yes sir— of course sir.”
“Good... And by the way, if this is indeed some... trick— if you have been put up to this by one of her cousins... You will find yourself having a severe case of ‘Iron Within’ for any upset you cause if you catch my meaning.”
The boy nodded vigorously.
“I’m glad that we’ve come to an understanding. Now go on, then.”
Perturabo appeared to think for a moment before smiling a surprisingly pleasant smile for somebody who seemed like he was going to be dragging a young man out of his home by his neck.
"Have fun, you two."
Meeting Ferrus Manus
The house was simple and straightforward. As if the man who had designed it had simply thought “house” with no more ideas connected and it had materialized. James was about to go up the gravel path that went up to the stairs when he heard a clank from the garage connected. Well, garage was a too small a word to describe the joined building. The gate was open and revealed a full-fledged workshop with machines that would make most mechanicus envious at the sight. It was almost as broad as the house itself, three quarters as high and stretched in further than James could easily discern. As he walked up to it he spotted a clearing a bit in, in the middle a white motorbike he recognized and a female shape under it.
He stopped at the gate to admire the view, Farah lost in concentration with her work. She was clad in a white tee and some torn white jeans, both covered with spots of oil and dirt, as was her face, something that he just thought made her cuter. Her hair was tied up back with the help of a cog-patterned bandana, although a couple of strands had slipped out and were arranged not to interfere. James lost track of time as he watched her work, before he regained his senses and announced himself.
“That’s Hana’s bike, right?”
Farah turned towards him and smiled, white teeth showing under a freckled and oil-stained face with blue eyes. She pushed herself out from the machine and got up.
“Yeah, she told me she wanted it to go faster, though I don’t really know what to do.” She pushed the loose strains of brown hair out of her face, where they had fallen when the direction of gravity had changed. “I told her I could paint it red for her,” she continued jokingly, “but she wasn’t so keen on that idea.”
James laughed a bit at the joke, but then got more serious. He swung his backpack around and opened it, taking out the item within and holding it out towards Farah.
“Here is what you requested, is it good enough?”
She took it from him and started inspecting it closely, turning it around to get a better look, her face stern and serious.
“It was quite some work to get it…” he added, hoping to influence the judgment. As he said so he thought he could spot a smile tugging at her lips, and soon enough she smiled back at him. Putting the item on a bench beside her.
“Yes, it is good enough. Test… passed.” She touched his nose with one of her metal fingers, it was cold to the touch, but James thought it was more than just that that sent a shiver down his spine. “So yes, you get a date with me. Got time now?”
James was almost struck by the question, he hadn’t expected it to go this fast.
“Uh, yeah, I do. I don’t have anything planned.”
Farah smiled a sly smile that didn’t make James feel so good anymore.
“Well, I do. Oh, hi Dad!”
James spun around, he hadn’t noticed the large shadow that now blocked out the sun from the outside. The man was bare-chested and hairless, which only worked to reveal the well-trained body even more. His hands, just as his daughter’s, was of shining metal and rested at his hips. He wasn’t as large as Angron or Russ that he had seen in passing at the school, but he seemed so much larger up in person.
“Good day, Mr Manus.” James managed to get out from himself. It was quiet for a second before Ferrus Manus made a large “Hmpf” and stretched out his right hand.
“Call me Ferrus.” His eyes were locked with James who now felt especially small. At the same time he knew this had to be a test and steeled himself and answered the handshake. Within the blink of an eye his hand was locked with the Primarch’s and he felt a crushing force constrict it. James was not caught unaware, he had almost expected it. Still, it hurt like hell. Like a bone would snap at any second. He wanted to scream in pain, but Farah put one hand on his back as she moved up beside him. The touch eased his pain somehow and the grip from the father soon loosened.
“Good work, son,” the large man rumbled, “seems like there is some fiber in you after all.” The large man smiled at him and patted him “lightly” on the shoulder with his metal hand. The pats made him almost fall to the ground.
“Thanks…” James managed to get out of himself. Ferrus didn’t respond but scanned past the young man and into the workshop.
“So you’re the guy who wants to get into the pants of my daughter.” His statement was intimidatingly direct. James did not know how to respond, he looked at Farah for support, but she was looking away, probably blushing. “Oh, don’t act so surprised, I know how it is to be young and what you got in your head. Now I trust my girl to take care of herself and choose a good guy, but don’t let that trust get to your head.” Ferrus continued, eyes fixed on the couple.
“I hear you’re handy with a wrench, and does sports.” The Primarch stated after a couple of seconds of embarrassed silence.
“I do,” James answered, glad at the change of subject,” although I’m no match against your daughter… in either of them.” He snuck a glance at Farah, who was doing the same and smiled at him.
Ferrus chuckled. “Yeah, she’s quite something, my Farah. Still, sports are good, it toughens us. The Imperium needs more strong men.” He fixed his eyes at James again. “Ever thought about joining the Iron Hands?”
“Uhm…” James had definitely not expected that question. Like anyone he had fantasized about joining the Astartes, but he never thought it to be possible. “Not really…”
“Well, I guess Farah could whip you into shape if she finds you worthy. And let me tell you now, if you want to marry her, believe me I’m gonna put the same expectations on you then that I put on my Marines now, so you better ask her to start the training today.” As Ferrus had spoken he had started to gesticulate with his metal hands and James now found a thick iron finger pointing at his face.
He swallowed, unable to speak, but managed to nod.
“You understand? Good. Now, I’ll leave you to your plans for the evening. Cya, kid. Farah, be back before twelve.”
The large Primarch patted him once again on the shoulder, an impact that surely would give him a bruise, as he strode into the workshop. When the man had disappeared James felt as he could breathe again.
“Wow…” was the only thing he could say.
“I know, Father’s a bit special…” Farah said as she took his hand and started pulling him towards the truck that was parked outside. “My Uncles too for that matter.” She added as she showed him towards the passenger side of the truck. Sitting down on the passenger seat as Farah slid into the driver’s he noticed that she hadn’t cleaned herself up since he had arrived. Not that he minded, but it was hardly the kind of look one had when one was on a date. Their eyes connected and it was as if Farah read his mind. “Oh, I don’t need to, not where we’re going.”
“Where is that?” James wondered, now feeling a bit at unease, but at the same time excited, as if he was embarking on an adventure.
Farah smiled slyly again, the same smile that he had seen before in the workshop. She started the truck with a roar.
“The Iron Hands training grounds.” She said grinningly.
An adventure indeed…
"Daddy, this is Jake."
The Urizen, Golden One, Master of the Word of God smiled warmly and clasped the young man to him.
"My son! It is an honour to finally meet you. Come, come, and break bread with us. I have prepared a meal for us to share."
"Thank you, but really it's no big deal."
"Nonsense! It is only right to share the bounty that we have been blessed with. Faith, if you could please show our guest where he can put his shoes, I just need to get something out of the oven."
The dining room was filled with the warm smell of candle wax and incense. Beneath framed devotional texts and icons, a table sat groaning under a repast of freshly baked bread, fish and other dishes of simple but wholesome food. Jake could hardly believe his eyes.
"This looks wonderful, Sir."
"Thank you, I do try. I don't often get the opportunity to show my skills to people outside the church. I don't suppose you'd like to come to our next meeting?"
"I'll think about it, Sir."
Lorgar nodded solemnly
"Well, you must make up your own mind, child. It would be wonderful if you could though. Faith has so few friends her own age there. Remind me before you go to give you our newsletter. Faith, my cherub, would you like to sing grace?"
Faith closed her eyes and began to sing a prayer in an ancient language to a haunting melody. Lorgar joined her a few minutes later, his deep bass voice rumbling like a storm at sea. Jake tried his best to join in, but he could not follow the words. It was enough to simply listen.
It was an hour later.
"Thank you Faith, that was lovely. Jacob?"
"Ah! Sorry, yes?"
"Would you like to say anything?"
"I'm afraid I'm not very religious, Mr. Aurelian."
"Don't worry. Simply say what's in your heart."
"Um... good bread, good meat, good God, let's eat?"
Lorgar raised one delicately plucked eyebrow. Faith tried not to giggle.
"Well... it was certainly from the heart. And simplicity is a virtue, of course. But try to think of something better next time. Now, come, eat!"
Meeting Konrad Curze
"So... where's your dad?"
"Oh, he'll be about somewhere. He knows you're coming, he'll probably say hi at some point. DAD? I'M HOME. I'll get us drinks, you sit down here."
The young man sat tentatively on the comfortable chair. The room was dark and spacious, elegant and at the same time somewhat threatening. The decorator had clearly gone for a Gothic feel to the house. The only thing that ruined the effect was the framed pictures on the mantelpiece.
The young man got up to examine them. Inside the frames were brightly colored crayon drawings, depicting a small girl with dark hair hand in hand with a large figure. They were clearly having fun jumping out at people and saying "boo!". A scrawling hand had written on the bottom: "for Daddy"
As the boy put the picture back on the shelf, he felt the cool edge of a sharp blade at his throat, close enough to draw blood but not enough to permanently injure.
"Well, well, well." whispered a voice in his ear "Is this an intruder? Yes? I was sure that my little ray of sunshine's boyfriend was about here somewhere, but alas, he cannot be. Because I'm sure he would have heard a direct order to sit down and not touch anything."
"I'm s-s-sorry, s-sir."
"Good. I'll be watching you."
With a sudden movement the blades were gone and the boy felt he was alone again. Very shortly after, his new girlfriend appeared with the drinks.
"We didn't have any soda, so... DAD! CAN YOU PLEASE STOP CUTTING MY BOYFRIENDS!"
The house was impressive, no doubt about it. Every inch of the tower facade was either painted in the most vibrant colors imaginable or blocked by a statue, each and every one a masterpiece handcrafted by the owners own two hands. I stood in awe and admired it in silence and it struck me that even the grass, every single blade of it perfectly cut and measured exactly two inches tall was a work of art.
Victoria had said that her father was a perfectionist and that I should be on my best behavior and look my best when I met him so before I rang the doorbell I once again corrected my tie and smoothed out the imaginary wrinkles in my shirt, checked my breath and made sure my shirt was tucked in all the way around. When I finally felt safe and at my best I knocked the door.
It took exactly fifteen seconds before the door opened. In the doorway stood the most gorgeous girl I had ever laid eyes upon in my entire life and I couldn’t believe I was here to pick her up. Victoria was dressed in a bubblegum pink summer dress that was just so short that any movement might reveal just a tad too much and the fabric was just thin enough that you could start to see through it, but not quite. One look and I already felt my head swim and I felt my knees grow weak.
“Hey there good looking…” She smiled, oh god those soft, full lips curved just in that perfect way and it made my heart flutter. “You’re a bit early, I’m not quite done yet…” She wasn’t done yet? Did she actually think she could look any better? I couldn’t even fathom such a thing. “Hey my dads in the kitchen, I think he was mixing drinks, maybe he could whip one up for you while you wait?”
I stammered out what I think was a yes before stepping inside. She just smiled and winked at me. “Promise I won’t be long, I just want to get everything just right for you…” And then she was up, padding up the stairs towards her room, the dress fluttering about her as she went. I couldn’t tear my eyes of off her, and somewhere in a shameful place I almost hoped that I would catch a glimpse of what she under underneath that dress…but it was just the perfect length and I was left with dashed dreams.
“Young man! Please, come in, come in, let me have a look at you!” I heard a melodic, yet strong and demanding voice call from inside the kitchen. Without hesitation I followed the voice as if beckoned by a sirens call. I was nervous, I could feel it, after all I was about to meet the Primarch Fulgrim himself! Yet his voice had lulled my trembling legs and I felt safe somehow.
It all changed the moment I crossed in to the kitchen. Awe struck I gazed upon the human male form in perfection, the Demigod Fulgrim himself and at that very moment I couldn’t really tell who I wanted more, him or his daughter. The moment he saw me I could feel his eyes drill in to my very soul and never before have I been under such tense scrutiny. Instantly his handsome face twisted in to a mask of utter disgust and he shook his head, the grey mane cascading from his scalp whipping about him as he did. “What is wrong with you boy?!” He barked and I could hear the righteous indignation in his voice. I felt my heart plummet in to the pit of my stomach and how every drop of blood in my body turned in to ice. “How dare you march in here looking like that? Don’t you have any decency at all?!” I threw a quick look down over myself thinking I had forgotten my pants or something but I couldn’t find anything wrong with my clothes at all.
I couldn’t really grasp the situation, couldn’t quite put two and two together but I wasn’t about to protest. I singled down on one of the stools by the bar and then began to search for the aforementioned drink. Imagine my surprise when I found no less than fifty four shot glasses all lined up one after another filled to the brim. Without hesitation I downed the first glass that I could reach and to this day I regret swallowing so fast. The flavors that danced in my mouth was nothing short of perfect, a balance between the rough bite of the alcohol and smooth and sweet flavor of uncountable fruits danced on my palate and for a moment I felt myself being swept away to a tropical paradise, but in the blink of an eye it was all gone. I reached for another shot, I had to taste it again! But just as my fingers nudged the glass I heard a voice behind me.
“Hey, I’m all done hun. let's go!” I turned around and there was Victoria, I have no idea what she had done but she looked even better than before. “Not yet!” I heard Fulgrim's mighty voice boom through the house, followed by the sound of his approaching steps. He came charging back in to the kitchen, clutching in his hand a brand new tie. “Here you go son. Can’t have you go out looking like a slob when you’re dining with my baby girl.” I inspected the tie in his hand and to my untrained eye it looked like nothing but another black tie. “Isn’t that the same color as…” I was cut off by an ice cold glare from two pairs of eyes as Victoria and her father both stared me down.
“No son…that ugly piece of wash cloth you came dragging in here was a coal black, a foot and a half long and an inch at the broadest and made out of cotton.” He shoved the new tie up in my face so I could get a good and proper look at it. “This, is a onyx black, foot and a half, two inches at the broadest with stripes of midnight and made out of silk…the perfect first date tie.” He snapped the thing around my neck like it had been a noose, and in the blink of an eye the perfect tie was tied around my throat. “Do you understand that son?” “Yes sir! Thank you sir!” I pipped and swallowed hard.
His face shun up in to a bright smile and he mused more to himself than anything else. “Perfect…by the way what did you think about the drink?”
“Oh it was great! The best I have ever had!”
“WRONG!” He barked and again I felt my heart sink.
“There was too much orange, too little apple and there should have been grape in there as well!” He slammed his fist in to the table and his brows furrowed. Before me I saw a man suddenly thrown in to the deepest pit of despair.
“Aw daddy…just keep trying…you’ll get it right…”
He looked up with a sad look at his daughter and waved dismissively with his hand. “Bah…another failure." he muttered.
I felt Victoria tug on my arm and I stood up. “Time to go?”, I whispered hopefully and she nodded her head frantically. “Well it was a pleasure to meet you Mr. Fulgrim but we really have to…”
“Not yet!” He snapped and gave me another one look over, then he plucked two hairs from the top of my head, retied the tie around me neck. When he was done with me he turned on his daughter, with a pair of tweezers that he pulled out of what seemed like thin air he plucked a single hair from her right eye brow and then he retied the strap on her dress, pulling it even tighter around her body. I swear as I watched the pink fabric stretch and strain against its fleshly cargo I again felt faint and swallowed hard and I could see a mischievous glimmer in Victoria's eyes before she winked at me. “Perfect…now you can go.”
Victoria dragged me out of the house as fast as our legs would carry us and once outside she began to giggle. “I’m sorry about that my dad has a thing for details, if we had stayed any longer we would never have gotten out of there.” I looked at her with wide eyes, my mind still reeling from the whole ordeal. “You don’t say?! He must have spent hours on that drink and he still wasn’t happy…”
“Hours? Oh hun…”, she patted my cheek. “He's been working on that one for three months.”
"WHAT?! We were lucky to get out of there!"
"Oh, you have no idea.", she giggled.
Meeting Magnus the Red
Standing outside the massive door, Castor shifted nervously from foot to foot. He was always nervous when he visited Miranda, even more than when he was around most girls, but today he had to meet her father. Castor couldn’t help but gulp when the door was answered not by Miranda, but by her father Magnus the Red. The man filled the entire door frame as he boomed, “You are the boy Castor, here to see my daughter.”
For a moment Castor stood dumbstruck looking at the single red eye, and then Miranda’s advice came back to him. “Don’t stare at the eye. He’s not embarrassed about it, but…just don’t stare at the eye.” Castor quickly dropped his gaze to the giant’s chest and stuck out his hand. “Yes, Mr. Magnus. I’m Castor,” he answered as if the primarch’s words had been a question and not a statement.
“It is simply Magnus,” the cyclops said, ignoring the offered hand, which was just as well as he would have easily crushed the boy’s. “Now come inside, Miranda should be down shortly provided she hasn’t gotten lost in another book.”
Inside the house was furnished oddly, half the chairs sized for giants such as the Magnus and his brothers, and half for mortals. Magnus settled himself into one of the massive chairs and eyed the young man. Castor, eager to escape the Primarch’s gaze, quickly walked over to one of the massive bookcases lining the walls and began scanning the titles. “See anything interesting?” came the deep rumble from the chair.
“Umm… err… yes, actually,” Castor replied, “On the Movement of Unseen Sphere, in the original Tsath-Yo.” Magnus’ single eyebrow rose slightly. “In truth the Tsath-Yo is only the first translation, admittedly done by Witoshen himself,” Magnus remarked haughtily, “Still your choice shows some intelligence, and an admirable interest in arcane lore.”
“Thank you sir”
“I would expect no less from someone seeking to date my daughter.”
“Yes sir,” Castor thought it better than to comment that he had already been dating Miranda for almost a month now.
“You are not a pysker yourself though,” Magnus’s voice dripped with contempt over the statement.
"No sir, but at least I am not a null."
Magnus grunted, and then sat staring at Castor in silence for a time. The ticking of a chrono could be heard, though Castor could not see any in the room. After what seemed like an eternity under the cyclops’ gaze, Magnus looked towards the stairs. “What is keeping that girl?," he muttered.
<MIRANDA! THE BOY IS HERE! GET YOUR NOSE OUT OF A BOOK AND GET DOWN HERE!>
The psychic broadcast thundered inside of Castor’s head. Magnus then turned his head as if listening to a far off voice. Standing up from the chair, the Primarch walked out without saying a word and ascended the stairs.
Opening the door to his daughter’s bedroom, Magnus inquired, his deep voice oddly soft, “You wanted to ask me something?”
“Does this dress look good on me?” Miranda asked, doing a little twirl in front of her father.
Magnus expression softened as it always did when with his daughter, “You always look beautiful.”
Miranda frowned, “Of course you say that. I meant will Castor like this on me?”
“I don’t know what you see in that boy,” Magnus said keeping his voice level, “That flatscan can’t possibly be good enough for you.”
“Daddy, I like him, and he’s nice and smart, and he says I’m pretty, and he doesn’t call me a freak like the others.”
“Who calls you a freak?” Magnus interrupted the stream of words rushing from his daughter, rage visible on his face, “Tell me their names and I’ll make them regret they were ever born.”
The small bookish girl stood defiant before the giant’s anger, “Dad you’re missing the point; I like him so don’t go scaring him away. I’m sure you will like him too if you just give him a chance.”
“I doubt that,” Magnus grumbled, but eventually gave before his daughter’s resolve, “but I will try, for your sake.”
“Good. Now does this dress look good on me?”
“Of course,” Magnus said, then seeing her face sighed and added, “I’m sure Castor will like it.” Miranda smiled then shooed her father out of the room saying, “I’ll be down in a moment, just need to clean up.”
Walking down the stairs Magnus saw Castor was sitting in one of the smaller human sized chairs, reading through ‘On the Movement’. “So you can read Tsath-Yo?” His voice filled the room. Castor nearly jumped out his seat, “Yes Sir. I taught myself a few years ago.”
“So young, I’m impressed,” Magnus said as he walked into the room, “and drop the Sirs.” Castor was confused at the change in Magnus’ attitude, and suspected a trap. The Primarch was known to be a tricky one. Still, he was glad that someone other than Miranda was finally impressed by his knowledge of Tsath-Yo. Few people even knew the language existed. “I thought it important to read works in their original language. Though I guess I was wrong in this case.”
“An understandable mistake; only a handful of people know of the language of the original,” Magnus reassured him.
“And what language is that?” Castor asked.
“No one knows,” Magnus replied, his voice contemplative, “‘On the Movement of Unseen Spheres’ is the only surviving work in that language. Indeed, it may have been invented for that work.” Magnus paused for a moment in thought. Yes, if the boy’s mind could survive that intact, he just might be strong enough for daughter. “Follow,” he said as he turned towards the back of the house. Castor carefully replaced the book before following the Primarch down the hall.
At the end of the hall was a large metal door, adorned with a massive adamantine lock and golden runes. Magnus pulled out a golden key engraved with arcane scripts and chanted while opening the lock. He gestured for Castor to remain behind as he entered the room. Through the door Castor could see more bookcases lining the walls, but unlike those in the hall these were locked, their glass fronts frosted to obscure the contents within. Magnus returned holding a large tome bound in some strange dark hide. He held the book out to Castor. It felt strangely warm in Castor’s hands, and the runes on the cover seemed to squirm before his eyes. Holding his breath, he opened the tome. The bizarre script on the left page meant nothing to him, but he recognized the hand-drawn figure on the right, though it was far more detailed than in any previous version he had seen. As he examined it in more detail he felt his mind rebelling against the symbols and their meaning, but Castor steeled his will and was able to make some sense of the script surrounding the figure. Tearing his eyes from the page, Castor turned to Magnus and asked, “Is this...?”
“Yes, the original in Witoshen’s own language,” Magnus replied before taking the book from Castor. As Magnus returned the book to its locked case, he smiled to himself. Not only had Castor survived opening the book, he had even managed to recognize what it was from a single figure. Maybe Miranda was right, he was starting to like to young scholar.
In the hall Castor was still recovering when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. He turned to see Miranda descending, looking to his eyes more radiant and beautiful than ever. She was wearing a blue and yellow dress and had put on makeup, somewhat clumsily but Castor never noticed.
Seeing Castor standing in front of the open door to the back library Miranda scowled, “Daddy didn’t try to scare you with one of his books did he?”
“What? No,” Castor said still a little dazed from seeing the book and the beautiful girl, “He was just showing me a volume I’d expressed interest in.”
Incredulous, Miranda asked, “Then why is your nose bleeding?”
“Is it?” Castor held a handkerchief up to his nose to stop the thin trickle, “Erm, well I guess you’re just that beautiful.” Miranda laughed, and then pulled Castor’s hand away to kiss him. Castor returned the kiss, wrapping the hand not holding the handkerchief around her. Miranda broke the kiss to shout through the open door, “Daddy, me and Castor are going out.”
“What? Oh right, sorry I got distracted reading.” Magnus called from within the library. Miranda giggled, “He does that all the time.” Remembering Magnus’s comments from earlier Castor couldn’t help but smirk as he followed Miranda out. Guess the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. “I heard that, boy! Be home by eleven.” Magnus’s voice boomed out after them.
It was already dark when the young man approached the huge, black tower, which was surrounded by screeching ravens, and he shivered at the thought of living in this tombstone-like building. As he couldn’t find a door bell, he used the raven-shaped doorknocker and waited, a bit timid about what might lie behind the giant, wooden doors. Suddenly, one of the doors was opened with a sound not unlike the cry of a raven, and a familiar girl looked at him, her black hairs falling uncontrollably into her pallid but beautiful face. She smiled, opened the door wide, and greeted him with her calm and kind voice: “Hey, I’m glad you came, despite this… mansion… I’m living in.”
He grinned and answered: “Well, I’d go through a tomb for you, Cora.”
“Oh, you charmer”, she laughed and hugged him.
Then, she took his hand and pulled him inside the building, which was as gloomy as he’d expected, but with Cora at his side, he didn’t care much, although he was impressed by the sheer size of the room. He looked around, noticing various flags and banners with black ravens on them, as well as many marble statues of crows. Somehow they seemed to look down at him, observing every step he was taking, making him feel slightly uncomfortable. “Wow”, he uttered, “it’s really impressive…”
She smiled and answered: “Yeah, if you like black, it has its moments.”
He wouldn’t admit it to her, but his keynote at the moment was to leave this scary room as soon as possible. To his disappointment, she placed him in a leather armchair and said apologetically: “I’m sorry, but I have to get something from my room. Please make yourself comfortable, I’ll be right back!”
She quickly followed a winding staircase upwards, leaving his sight in a blink.
In the following silence, he could hear the ravens’ cries outside, mingled with the wind howling around the tower. He looked around once again, as he suddenly noticed that the armchair in front of him wasn’t empty. It turned around, revealing a huge, pallid man with short black hair and an extremely muscular body who eyed him suspiciously.
“I could have killed you in thirty-four different ways and you hadn’t even noticed it”, he spoke with a low voice. “But I guess that Cora wouldn’t be pleased with that, so it’s probably better to ask you a few things, young man. I am Corax, and maybe we will get to be friends.”
The young man gulped and digested everything the black-clad giant had said, especially the part about his death. With a trembling voice, he said: “Good evening, Mr. Corax, I am…”
“What’s in a name? Your presence and your deeds are the only things that matter. Your enemies shouldn’t fear you for your name, but for the fact that they don’t know what got them.”
“Um… well, okay”, the boy stuttered.
Corax slowly leaned himself towards the young man, a sly smile on his face. “Look, boy. I can clearly see that you’re not a fighter. But strength doesn’t depend solely on brute force or intrepidity, so we shall see how you conduct in dating my daughter. The fact that you’ve dared to enter the Ravenspire already speaks for you, soldier. Let’s hope that you’ve planned everything well enough to make a decisive blow at my daughter’s favour.”
The man winked and stood up, patting the possible boyfriend of his daughter on his shoulder. “We shall see, soldier”, he muttered, then he headed for a door at the back of the room, vanishing in a blink and leaving back the young man stunned.
Just a second after Corax’ disappearance, Cora stepped down the staircase, looking even more adorable than before. She noticed the distracted look at her date’s face and said, more to herself: “So you’ve met daddy, huh?”
As they walked out of the Ravenspire, hand in hand, a huge shape stood unnoticed in the door frame, his black cloak drifting in the wind. He lifted a porto-vox to his head and said in a low voice: “Well then, Kayvaan, I’m looking forward to you reporting the progress of the mission. Corax out.”
Meeting Leman Russ
As Alex turned the bend in the gravel road he came upon what had been colloquially referred to as the 'cabin'. Looking like a mix between a longhouse and a mansion, the massive wooden structure dominated the fenced compound. An auxiliary structure lurking in one corner of the mammoth space looked something like a giant smokehouse, the notion reinforced by the bitter stench of smoke and billowing clouds of black. The other was less easily identified; its discreet glass and ceramic construction seemed more modern than the two others but betrayed nothing of its function.
He parked his car next to the only other vehicle in sight (an old red pickup truck) and made his way hesitantly toward the fence's wrought iron gate. Despite a passing acquaintance with a few of her cousins Alex had only spoken to Freya a couple of times and never felt that they had established a real connection. He put his musings aside as he placed a hand on the iron bars, and felt a pounding tremor through the metal. The two biggest dogs he had ever seen charged towards the gate, eyes level with his and barking like the hounds of hell. As they closed the distance in enormous bounds he stepped back from the fence, terror preparing him for fight or flight.
Luckily for him the decision was taken from his hands, as a voice from the house rang out. “FREKI! GERI! STOP!" The dogs halted in an instant, impossibly arresting nearly a half-ton of muscle in the blink of an eye. GET BACK HERE, LEAVE HIM ALONE!” His savior strode towards him across the trampled grass. Freya, daughter of Leman Russ, the school's star athlete, and his own personal angel grinned apologetically as she reached the gate.
“Hey Alex, are you OK? I hope my dad’s wolves didn’t scare you too much..” she said, toying with a strand of her fiery red hair. As his panic subsided, he reexamined the monstrous wolves he'd mistaken for dogs. He was overjoyed to see their expressions shifting from bloodlust to a happy, benign curiosity, and even happier to have only fallen on his rear at their approach.
“Y-Yeah, I’m fine” he replied as he sheepishly stood.
“Bad Freki, bad Geri, get! Go hunt something,” she said as she released the simple steel catch from the gate. The lupine duo ran happily past him, pausing only to mark their territory on his car before dashing into the deep forests surrounding the compound. Freya grabbed his arm. “You wanna come in? I’m pretty much all set up” she said, leading toward the house.
“Sure” he said, still shocked from his encounter and not knowing what to expect inside. When they stepped inside the enormous wooden fastness Alex felt they'd passed through a portal in time, into some ancient warrior chieftain's lodge. Trophies of battle hung from thick oak rafters in the open structure above axes and armor adorning the walls. The ground floor, on the other hand, was spartan and rustic, seemingly designed for stability and simple comfort. Alex's mind jumped to a quick conclusion: keeping such sturdy items far from the ground might normally be used to protect the inhabitants from bumping into them or injuring themselves, but in this household the decorations were probably more easily damaged than the normal occupants...
“So... why did you call me?” he asked, still gazing at the rough ornamentation around the hall.
“Well, I had this bad sparring session with my cousin Furia. We ended up tossing and turning on the floor, her being on top then me on top and some other weird positions” she said with a smile, while he tried to hide what he was visualizing in his mind. “Anyway, my back and neck got stuck something fierce, so Furia suggested that I call you up to massage those knots away, she said you worked magic on her back once or twice.” Her smile widened as though she knew exactly what he was thinking.
“A massage. That's what you called me for? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that my talent is starting to be recognised. I want to be a masseur after all, but we could have done this at school instead” he said with a mix of surprise and annoyance over the fact that he had driven an hour out of town, nearly been attacked by giant freaking wolves and having had one of them urinate on his car just to give her a massage.
“Well, I thought it would be better if you could give me a private message... all alone at my house, where there is no one else around for kilometers to get the wrong idea. I mean, what would they think if they saw you giving me a back rub at school?” she said, cocking her head into a more persuasive puppy-dog look than any on Terra had ever seen.
“Wait, your dad isn’t here?”
“Of course not, he’s working at his bar till later tonight. So like I said we're all alone. Come on, I already set up your work station” she said with a toothy grin, the product of his red face. She took his hand and led him to what probably served as a rec room, if the expensive pict-screen and entertainment cogitators were any evidence. A large table sat before the couch, adorned with a pair of blankets and a pillow for comfort. “Here it is,” she said cheerfully, pointing. Flipping an emplaced music-vox on, she lay down on the table and looked back at him before batting her eyebrows coquettishly. “You can work your magic now Alex,” before adding “You don’t mind if I turn the radio on, do you? Is there a station you'd prefer?”
“No problem, anything’s good” he said, not really caring what kind of music she put on as he stared at her back. Freya Russ, the school's leading athlete and one of the most beautiful girls at school, lay unceremoniously upon the table. She wasn’t beautiful in the classical, untouchable way like her cousins Angela or Victoria: her beauty was a wild one, honest and untamed.
“Hey woolhead, are you going to start or what?”
Snapping out of his reverie he started to massage her neck, hopefully before she could guess what he was thinking. “Tell me if I’m applying too much pressure or-” “Mmmmmmm that feels gooooood...” she moaned, interrupting him.
As his face continued to redden he continued: “O-or if you want more pressure. I’ll start by your neck and work my way lower, tell me if I hit a knot.” He continued to massage her neck for the next ten minutes as the occasional moan escaped from her lips. After he was done with the neck he moved down to the shoulder blade area, feeling the first real knot. This produced several more moans from Freya, alongside other remarks of praise for his work. He moved even lower on her back, finding more knots, but being unable to completely work them out as her bra was impeding his progress. After a few minutes of frustration over not being able to receive the full benefits from her massage, Freya got up and turned away from Alex.
“Ok, that's it, this is coming off.”
“What’s coming off?” Asked Alex unsure of what was happening.
“This” she said, sliding off her shirt and throwing it into a corner. Her grey/blue bra quickly joined the shirt. Alex in the mean time was trying and failing to look away from Freya bountiful bosom, at which she hid a coy grin. She then lay back down on the table and beckoned him to continue.
“Y-you sure you don’t want your shirt back or something?” said Alex, blushing redder than he had ever felt in his life and trying the best he could to hide a growing excitement. Freya had a reputation at school for being a tease, but if she didn't feel like playing she could likely beat the stuffing of out him. He forced himself to focus obsessively on her reputed regular competitive sparring against Furia, which unfortunately had the opposite of the desired effect.
“Now get back to work. That last was feeling sooo good...” she crooned seductively. As Alex returned his attention fully to her now fully exposed back, more moans escaped Freya. After a few rapturous minutes she turned and looked back at him. “Alex, come here. I have a secret to tell you...” Alex moved closer to her face, her lips a mere inches from his. She whispered in his ear, her breath hot and sulky “I wanted you to know that I-”
The front door slammed open in an eruption of sound and violence as a titanic voice shouted shouted at the top of its lungs. “FREYA... I’M HO-OME!”. It sounded rich, rough, deep, and by the tonal variation not entirely sober.
“I’m in the living room, dad! I’m with Alex”
Alex had no idea what to do. What in the name of the emperor would a drunken Leman Russ do to him? His half naked daughter seen with a guy he didn’t know would be a circumstance in which the male in question would be certain to perish. Luckily for him, he didn’t get the chance to find out as Freya jumped up and pulled on her T-shirt, her pert nipples poking at the fabric. She gave him a wink.
As her father walked into the room she rushed to hug him, yelling out “Daddy!” She was immediately enfolded in the arms of a bear-like figure easily filling the wide entry to the room. “How come you're home early?” She inquired, her tone barely hinting at her annoyance.
“Well, Freya, you know uncle Lion... he and I got in a disagreement and somehow the bar got a bit damaged...” he said, holding his muscular daughter like she weighed no more than a baby.
“You started a fight with uncle Lion again! What was it this time, did you call him a tranny again?” she asked her father teasingly.
“Alas, not this time. More importantly, who is this?” he said, as though noticing Alex for the first time. His gaze passed over the young man like a boot over a flea, eyes wide and expressive.
“Alex, this is my dad. Dad, this is Alex. You know him, his dad Mark works for you at the bar." She disentangled herself and moving to embrace Alex.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sir.” said Alex, extending his hand.
As Leman Russ crushed his hand in a huge iron grip, the primarch sniffed the air curiously, as if an unfamiliar odor was displeasing him. His eyes hardened, and refocused on Alex. "Son, I think you better go home. I don’t want to do something my daughter might resent me for.” As he said those words, the blood drained from Alex’s face. Before he could say anything Freya pulled him away, sweeping him quickly to the door.
“I’ll see you Monday” she said and then gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before shoving him out into the grass.
As Alex was leaving he could clearly hear shouting from inside the house, and he hurried awkwardly to his car. As he got in, feeling empty and sad, his gaze drifted across the fenced yard to the woods. Two pairs of great, yellow eyes watched him pull swiftly away.
A strange odour filled his nostrils, as the rusty iron door was opened and Athanasius could see Morticia’s head with the well-known mess of greyish hair. She coughed, cleaned her throat and said then: “Well, um... hi, Atha! Why don’t you come in?”
As much as he wanted to say something like “Because of this toxic gas”, he merely said “Hi!” and followed her fragile frame into the house, wondering what in the Emperor’s name was going on here.
The hallway looked like a bunker, but with ventilation shafts filling the air with smoke instead of oxygen. The smoke obscured his sight and he bumped against a chair standing in his way. Morticia heard his mumbled curse and said regretfully: “I’m sorry that you had to come in, but my dad wanted to see you... and test you, I fear.”
She took his hand and guided him towards the stairs, both of them coughing repeatedly in the meantime. He rubbed his eyes and asked curiously: “So... would you mind telling me why you live in this... death trap?”
She turned around and tried to smile - at least it seemed like a smile through the smoke. Sighing, she stepped closer to him and said in a low voice: “Daddy always says: ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’” She coughed and continued: “I think he once had an accident with toxic gas, he doesn’t speak about it, but I’m sure he wants me to be able to live through such an accident.”
He grimaced and said sarcastically: “Such a caring person, your father...”
She shrugged and continued to lead him upwards the stairs, carefully watching every step. Finally, they reached the upper floor, which at least wasn’t that filled with smoke anymore. They both took a deep breath, but Morticia soon recovered while he still felt somewhat dazed.
She opened a door with a screeching noise, revealing a dim dining room with Mortarion sitting at the head of the table, eying the young man suspiciously. The bald, pallid man pointed with his hand to a chair at the opposite of the table, and said with a hoarse: “Sit down, boy. The test of endurance has begun.”
Athanasius stepped forward and sat in the chair offered to him.
“Well... hello, Mr. Mortarion. I am Athanasius. Nice to meet you” he said, intimidated by the huge, gaunt figure.
The primarch nodded, his face a grim expression in the darkness of the room. “We shall see. Now, to prove yourself worthy of my daughter, you must be able to survive.”
“But Dad! Why does he need to do this?” Morticia interjected, gripping Athanasius’ shoulders from behind.
“Morticia, my dear. I don’t know what he’s up to, but at least he should be able to... save his loved one. It’s only for your safety, darling”, the pale giant said in a surprisingly caring way.
Athanasius sighed, but answered determinedly: “Whatever it is to gain the favour of your daughter, I shall do it, sir.”
Mortarion nodded again, then he stood up and served the young man a goblet filled with a strange liquid.
“Drink this. Then I’ll explain the test”, Mortarion said with a stern voice.
“Daddy! Do we really have to do this?” Morticia asked pleadingly, but her father only nodded.
Athanasius drained the goblet with huge gulps, the bitter liquid almost enough to make him vomit. He shuddered and placed the goblet on the table. The primarch smiled approvingly, then, to Athanasius’ utter dismay, he said calmly: “Now, my son, you have ten minutes left to find the antidote downstairs. It’s a violet phial. Hurry up.”
“I’m sorry... WHAT?”
As the young man looked up in the face of the primarch, finding no sign of a joke, he jumped up and spun on his heel. At his side, Morticia stood and wept. With a tearful voice she stammered: “I... I’m so sorry... I didn’t... didn’t know... please...”
Athanasius had no time to think about regretting this invitation, as he dashed down the stairs, into the grey smoke that filled the ground floor.
“What the hell...” he continued muttering while he opened a smoke-obscured room that was obviously some kind of living room with an old TV, a chess board on a table and several bleached leather armchairs. Coughing hard, he rummaged an iron cupboard, but he could only find rusty knives, used bolter shells, torn maps and a huge gas mask that unsurprisingly didn’t fit on his head. Frantically, he stormed into the next room; it seemed like a bath room with an airlock built into the door. At least, there was no smoke in there. He opened the wall closet and looked over dozens of probably venomous flasks, but there wasn’t the violet one.
Looking at his watch, he realized that there were maybe five minutes left. He sprinted into another room, a huge library with arcane books. He sighed. There would hardly be a phial in a library, so he turned around and ran into the next room, which seemed to be the kitchen. Athanasius inspected all the kitchen cabinets, finding various cooking utensils, but nothing to drink. Briefly, he wondered why there was no food in there, but then pushed the thought aside as he had more serious problems. Like this man giving him a probably deadly poison.
He looked at his watch again. Three minutes left. He felt the poison already working in his cells... or was it just his desperation? Nevertheless, he rushed into the next room, a huge storage room, filled with literally everything. How was he supposed to find anything in here?
“Maybe if I look in the ‘antidote’ section”, he said cynically. “Wait a minute. ‘Antidote’ section...?”
Chewing on his lip, he re-entered the library and hoped that this idea had also occurred in another brain. Searching for the A-section, he felt his heart beating faster. As he found it, he couldn’t believe his eyes. There was really a violet phial standing between magic books to cure poison. Relieved beyond all meanings, he took it and drained it in a single gulp.
In his mind formed a single, urgent wish: To exit this damned house as soon as possible.
He ran back towards the hallway, but he soon spotted a huge, pale person standing in the doorframe, smiling appreciatory.
“Well done, my son. You have proven your worth”, Mortarion said as if he hadn’t poisoned a young man a few minutes ago.
“Thank you... but would you mind if I left to never return again?”, Athanasius asked bitterly and coughed again.
“I really don’t think that this is necessary, Athanasius. Maybe I should tell you something... there is a reason for my behaviour that not even my brothers – let alone my damned father – know. Look, boy, didn’t you ask yourself why Morticia has no mother? Well, there was this time that I didn’t live in a poisonous trap. But one day, while we were asleep, lightning struck the house, causing a short circuit of the fan in our bedroom. I... I didn’t notice the smoke until it was too late. I was nearly unaffected, but she was probably already... dead... when I awoke. I ran out and called for help, but there was nothing to do... I plug out all electric things at night, but what if it happens elsewhere, or in a traffic accident, or if I forget something? I couldn’t stand losing Morticia after this loss. So she has to be strong enough to survive. And you have to be strong enough to survive, too.”
Athanasius didn’t know what to say, so he just nodded, noticing Morticia rushing towards him and could only feel her tight embrace for a second before he fell unconscious due to smoke and exhaustion.
As the young man woke up, he was in a clean, white room, lying on a comfortable bed. It was already dark outside, and he wondered if he was in a hospital.
“Thank goodness, you’re awake”, a worried voice said a voice to his left.
He turned his head to see Morticia smiling at him. She slowly took his hand and sighed.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t know how my father wanted to test you. But I... I have to admit something. Normally, we live in a house like everyone else. My father trains my fitness, but without the constant smoke. I... well...”
She wiped a tear off her face and continued: “Like my mother, I have a weak health, and my father wants you to be able to rescue me at any time. Well, I am really sorry... and... I don’t deserve it, but I hope that you can forgive me.”
He smiled back at her, a weak smile, but somehow he couldn’t really be angry at her. Athanasius believed her, and on the other hand, he felt a strange urge to protect her, beside some butterflies in his belly.
“I forgive you. Well, if you promise me that I’ll never have to go into that house of yours anymore”, he said and grinned.
She smiled wider, gripping his hand tightly and giving him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you.”
Outside the room, which was in the third floor of Mortarion’s house, stood the primarch and wondered whether he should tell the two lovebirds that the goblet had only contained vinegar. Smiling to himself, he decided to let Athanasius be a hero. And every hero needs a villain, he thought bemused.
Meeting Rogal Dorn
I pulled up to the driveway and was immediately awestruck...
I mean, I'd been 'dating' Remilia for a week now, and she'd told me that her dad did the fencing for her house, but this was plain ridiculous...
The fence was at least thirty feet high and made from ceramite, the only possible opening being a gate left open to reveal a gravel path.
I swore, this was going to be freaking hard.
No sooner had the words left my mouth than a cute head peeked over the closest part of the fence, her auburn hair and cute smile sending my knees to jelly as they had so many times before.
"Oh hey Greg" Remilia smiled, resting her head on her hands and her elbows on the fence "Sorry, I'll about this, I'll get the gate open"
I regained my composure and smiled nervously as slowly, ever so slowly, the gate opened slightly and I squeezed through... ...only for the first thing to greet me being the sound of alarms
"Intruder alert! Intruder alert!" the alarms blared and I froze, stock still as a squad of tactical marines took up firing positions, their bolters focused on me.
"stand down! STAND DOWN!" Remilia shouted as she sprinted for me, shielding herself in front of me as the Marines lowered their weapons.
"Sorry" she apologized to me as the alarms stopped and the marines lowered their weapons "Dad's a little paranoid about security...it's like he expects some kind of siege"
It got worse from there....
It was only when I turned from Remilia did I see the massively oversized Bolter pointed at my face by a man wearing ornate golden armour. This, I assumed was the great Rogal Dorn...
"Remilia, aren't you going to introduce me to this fine young specimen?" Dorn said, lowering his gun that he was aimed at me.
"This is Greg" Remilia said, grabbing my hand and leading me closer to her father, which I saw as having been taller than I imagined. He also seemed to have a calm kind of gaze about him. Well, calm, but a real 'don't fuck with me' attitude behind it. I swallowed, my throat suddenly dry.
"And how do you know my daughter, Greg?" Rogal Dorn asked me, and my throat turned absolutely dry yet again.
I swallowed before I could speak up "We're...um..." a swift kick to the shin from Remilia told me I needed to answer this correctly "We're in the same class.... architectural studies, sir"
"An architect?" Dorn's eyebrows shot up with surprise and mirth "Well why didn't you say so! You can never have too many good architects in one legion, can you?"
"Uh...no sir" I stammered
"Good man" he said and clasped me on the back, I nearly fell head over heels. Only Remilia catching me made me keep my balance.
"I trust it my Remilia does well at your class?" Dorn asked, eying me slightly suspiciously, as if this answer was also a test
"yes sir, she's a straight A's student" I replied quickly.
Dorn Sighed "Remilia, I thought you were improving this semester!" he said to the girl by my side indignantly
"I am, dad...he's just being modest of me that's all" Remilia retorted before she shot me a dark look.
"Too much of your mother in you" Rogal muttered under his breath before turning back to me.
"Greg, I need your advice...a few of Perturabo's kids have been flinging rocks at my wall and I need a way to keep them out to protect my little girl, what would you recommend?"
I knew I was being tested so I scanned the fence...it had to be something else...something obvious...
"Shutting the gate, sir?" I asked the answer, unsure on whether it was right. To my surprise, it seemed as though it was.
"Correct my boy... Shut the Gate!" Don bellowed
A marine pushed the button on the gate, the bolter attached to his arm training the narrowing gap the entire time. Dorn refocused his attention on me.
"So Greg, do you have any siblings?" Dorn asked.
"Um, a younger brother I guess..." I spilled, for some reason this seemed to please Dorn, but he turned to Remilia...
"Honey, can you go get your cousin Sigrid from your uncle's house? I'd much like her and your friend's brother to get to know each other..."
"Do it" Dorn commanded, and Remilia stalked off a quick "He's not even my real uncle, just a captain you promoted to be my emperorfather" muttered under her breath...I watched her go and admired the cute figure before a huge hand clapped me on the shoulder.
"She's really a sight for sore eyes, isn't she?" Dorn's voice said, and I couldn't help but nod, lost in my own mind of that perfect mind matched with those smooth curves.
"Let me tell you something, son" Dorn said, grabbing me by the jaw and twisting my head around until I was looking directly into his eyes "I know you have feelings for my daughter, and she for you and know that if you ever break my little girl's heart I will put you in the pain glove and laugh. In other words, if you break her heart, I will break you like I do Perturabo's 'fortresses'. You got me?"
I nodded quickly, scared out of my mind
"Good, now run along and find Remillia. You two kids have fun." Dorn said, releasing me as I scampered off.
Alternative Meeting Rogal Dorn
"So, let me get this straight, my boy. You are wishing to take my dear Remilia out for...what was it exactly?"
I swallowed hard as Dorn turned to look at me, his eyes seeming to bore through the back of my head and into the wall behind me.
"T-to a p-pic-"
"Stop stammering, boy!" He slammed his meaty fists against his desk, rattling the green glass lamp there. The walls behind him were bedecked with trophies and, above the mantle of his fireplace was a massive family portrait. I didn't have time to ponder on it, though, as he seemed to be growing frustrated by my presence.
"I would like to take your daughter to a picnic, sir." Despite the bravado I attempted to put on, I was still shaking faintly under the man's stare. His face might as well have been cut from slate, as much as it changed.
"It seemed like a nice day and so I thou-"
"Now, my boy, why are you so interested in my daughter?"
I was taken back slightly. If nothing else, the man was blunt in what he wanted to know. I must have paused for just a moment too long, though.
"Is it her mind you're interested in? My Remilia is sharp as a razor, you know. Or are you after her for her body? I'm no stooge, I have seen the way you boys look at her."
I could barely get a word in edgewise, and most of them were being cut off after the first syllable. Finally, I snapped.
"For all of those things, which I would have told you had you given me a damn moment to speak! Yes, your daughter is smart. She's sharp, cunning, whatever you want to say about it. And yes, she's attractive. What do you want me to say? I know that you've been all over my background to check up on me while I've been interested in your daughter, so you know full well that there is no reason that I am not good enough to take your daughter on a date. If you're still so hellbent on riding me into the ground over this, so be it! But I am taking your daughter out for a picnic today. I figure I might as well now, as you are liable to snap me like a twig."
It wasn't until after I had blurted everything out that I realized what I had done. Sitting at his desk, Dorn's eyes had narrowed to hard slits and his fists had clenched. Bracing for the worst, I was surprised when he started laughing. Looking up, his face was split wide in a smile and his laughter was nearly shaking the trophies off of their shelves.
"I like you. Despite a little bit of a soft shell, you've got some grit."
He stood up and put his hand on my shoulder as he walked past, almost knocking me sideways.
"Maybe even enough to be an Imperial Fist someday. Have you ever considered enlisting?" I rose from the chair, following him to the front hallway where Remilia met us.
Her father continued on with his stories, pausing only long enough for Remilia to kiss him on the cheek. On our way out the door, the last thing I heard was,
"You had better have her back by nine, or I'll throw you into the glove!"
The laughter that followed it kept me shivering through the evening.
I looked out the window, nervous as hell. Venus noticed and smirked. “Relax. They’re good people.”
“I’m sure,” I said. I took a deep breath and stepped out of the car, craning my head to look at the house at which we had just arrived. For the estate of a Primarch, it wasn’t…large. I had seen Cora’s place, that was practically a mini-hive. This thing couldn’t have been more than three stories.
I walked up to the door, trailing behind Venus. Before she could open it, I heard someone call from inside. “Wait, no-”
The door burst open. A dog ran through and jumped around me, waving its tail like a propeller. Venus giggled. “Hey, Taxi, get off him, come on.” I reached down to pet him, but he launched himself back a pace, crouching down and daring me to move closer. I turned to Venus and cocked an eyebrow.
“Yeah, so when you tell him to come, you’re Hailing a Taxi,” she said, her face completely straight. I snorted.
“Nice.” I stuck my hand out for him to sniff, and he did, then slammed himself sideways into me, panting contentedly. I smiled and scratched him behind the ears. “Friendly mutt.”
“Who you callin’ a mutt?” a terrifyingly deep voice asked. I whipped my head up and found myself staring at the brilliantly shining red eyes of Vulkan himself.
“I…uh, I wasn’t…um.” Goodness, I’m eloquent when I’m frightened. Vulkan let the silence drag on for a second before Venus slapped him on the elbow.
“Daaaad, knock it off.”
Vulkan grinned broadly, flashing white teeth in the almost night-black skin on his face. “I jest. Come on in, Jake, Venus has told me a lot about you.”
“I hope she was lying,” I said, trying not to be intimidated by his eyes and colossal stature. I walked into the house behind him, pausing as he snagged a soda from the cooler by the door. When I walked in, I was surprised by two things: first, this was a much nicer house than it appeared from the front, and second, there were easily a dozen other guests.
“I hope not, myself, she says you two are serious,” Vulkan said, apparently not noticing how I missed a step when he said that. Venus slapped him again, harder.
“DAAAAD, stop it!”
“What?” he asked, all innocence. A few of the other people in the room wandered on over.
“Venus, hon, you look great,” a man in Fire Drake colors but no armor said, dropping to one knee so he could hug her without bending at the middle.
“Thanks, Uncle Ir’Sem!” she said, happily returning the hug. I stood back and watched, at a loss.
A woman who I recognized from pictures as Venus’ mother sidled up to me as I watched. “You must be Jake. Hi there,” she said, sticking a hand out. I took it and tried not to look out of my depth.
“Yes, I am, Lady Vulkan. I’m a bit surprised, though,” I said, gesturing to take in the crowd. “I didn’t know there was a party tonight.”
“Really? Venus probably wanted it to be a surprise,” she said, smiling. She looked far more like her daughter than Venus looked like Vulkan, to my lack of surprise.
"Uh. Is it someone’s birthday or something?” I asked weakly, suddenly aware of the fact that I knew NOTHING about her family beyond what the tabloids said.
“Two people’s, actually. And please, call me Misja,” she said, as I sat down at a counter at the back of the room, where something that smelled excellent was sitting in a bowl next to some chips. I glanced back to see that my ersatz date had vanished, and I looked around for her to no avail.
“All right, Misja, thank you. Um, did you see where she went?” I asked, still searching.
“Probably just changing,” Misja said, wandering over to the other side of the counter, where what looked like a four course meal was cooking. I nodded, as if I had any idea where her room was, and tried not to look anxious.
“So, Jake,” I heard, and twisted around, nacho halfway to my mouth. “Tell me a bit about yourself.” Vulkan had disentangled himself from the crowd of family and sat down at the much sturdier stool next to mine.
“Well…uh, you may have heard the basics,” I said nervously. “I’m in Venus’ Cogitator Design class in school, and I was in her gym and chemistry classes before that. What else do you want to know?”
“I mean tell me about you,” he said, raising his eyebrows and staring. Which just helped me relax so much.
“Uh. Well…I’m from Hive Tetra, and I’m an amateur designer. That’s where I met Farah, and she introduced me to Venus. And the rest, as they say, et cetera,” I said, trying to keep it succinct.
Vulkan laughed. “Amateur design, hmm? Is that what you want to do?” he asked, scooping up a few nuts from a bowl.
“Not sure,” I said honestly. “It’s interesting stuff, but I’m not sure I have the eye or talent for it. There’s other things that interest me, too.” Before I could expound upon the point, I heard someone tromping down the hall across the room. I half-turned to see who it was, and did a double-take. Freya Russ emerged from the hallway, looking around. When she set her eyes on me, her face lit up.
“Hey!” she said, her husky voice cutting through the general noise. She bounded on over and stood next to me, smirking. “I was wondering if I’d see you here! Venus has been talking about this party all damn day. Apparently cousins who don’t even live dirtside are here.”
“Hi Freya,” I said, trying not to let the girl’s hyperactive aura drive me back a step. “I didn’t even know there was a ‘here’ to be at until I got here.”
“That’s no shocker,” Russ said drily. “She wasn’t sure how you’d take it.”
“She said she wanted me to drop her off before we went out tonight,” I said, feeling sandbagged. Did everyone here but me know what was going on?
Apparently. Vulkan spoke up, sounding amused. “Hello, Freya. Glad you could make it. Jake,” he said, turning back to me. “Tell me what you do on the weekends.”
Finally, safe ground. I turned away from Russ, who was digging into the nachos with healthy enthusiasm. “Well, I help out on the block. The whole hive is overpopulated, you know, so the district cast-lines are constantly falling apart.”
“Damned sloppy engineering,” Vulkan muttered, looking disgusted.
“Yes sir, quite” I said, sighing as I remembered my father’s endless tirades on the subject.
“So how do you help?” he asked, dragging his soda. Not beer, I noted. Not a drop of alcohol in the whole party?
“Well, I help the scrap teams. My hab’s lucky, I guess, we’re on the edge, so we get first access when the Mechanicum sends in repair teams, but they can’t use servitors in the access tunnels because those are the first places the shocklines break. My grandfather designed those lines, so I help the extractors,” I said, hoping I wasn’t shooting off at the mouth.
Vulkan looked mildly interested. “Really? Good for you!”
“Thanks,” I said, trying not to blush. “It’s tough work, but it’s rewarding, you know? My father probably still has the shockline prototypes in the shop.”
“You have a shop in your hab?” he asked.
“I help run the shop in my hab,” I said. “My father and I help run it when we get some downtime. My grandfather designed it and built it. He was a Magos of the Canstrides Chapel.”
Vulkan’s head pivoted down to stare at me. “Truly? Was his name Carmine?”
I blinked in shock. “Yeah…how did you know him?”
“I didn’t, not in person, but I remember his name on the rolls of the Chapel. Most of the Salamanders Legionary Techmarines trained at that seminary. Great Metallurgical Studies program.”
I was quiet for a long moment, as I contemplated the reminder that I was talking to one of the most powerful people in the galaxy. He looked at me askance. “So did you really not know there was a family party here tonight?”
“Um…no. No, sir, I didn’t,” I said, turning to find something to help reanchor me to reality. The crunching noises coming from where Russ was standing suddenly cut off.
“There you are, you little debutant!” Russ said, though a mouthful of nacho. I started to turn to see who she was talking to, when Venus’s familiar arms slid around my chest.
"Hey yourself, Freya,” she said in her ear, and pecked me on the cheek. “Hi, Jake. Settling in?”
“Such as I am,” I said, standing and hugging back, glad to be near someone I knew. And so comfortably, too…
Vulkan cleared his throat. “Venus, dearest, whyever did you not tell Jake that your cousins’ birthdays were today?”
Venus pulled back from me and shot her dad a look. “Dramatic tension.”
“Oh, sure,” I muttered, dropping back down. “Leave me in the dark.”
“Oh, bitch, bitch, bitch,” she said airily, dropping down on Russ’s far side and blowing a kiss at her mother. “It wouldn’t have been right if you had a chance to rehearse your lines. I’ll make it up to you.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” I said, in a tone that let her know I was kidding. The rest of the night went like that, for the most part. My testicles nearly crawled into my stomach when the Emperor Himself walked in the door, but to my quiet relief, he was only dropping by on his way to Luna, and I didn’t have time for a shaky “Hello, My Liege,” before he took off. As the night wore on though, and my belt slackened off after the absurdly good grox cordon bleu, I started to wonder if the party had been, somehow, altered to account for my presence, especially since nearly everyone had talked to me at some point.
When I voiced my concerns to Venus, though, she had just shaken her head. “Nope, this happens at least once a month,” she said.
“Once a month? Really? Nobles from that many places?” I asked, stunned.
“We’re not nobles when we’re family,” she said, rolling her glowing red eyes…eyes I could dream about. “Did my cousins talk down to you tonight?”
“Faith and Petra did,” I muttered.
“Yeah, well, Petra’s just self-centered, and Faith’s never nice to atheists that aren’t Grandpa,” Venus said dismissively, waving her hand in the vague direction of the parking garage annexed to the building. We were on the roof garden now, along with Morticia and Roberta, both of whom had claimed that they needed some fresh air, and one of Misja’s nieces I didn’t recognize.
“Still. How do that many people get together like that?” I pressed. She leaned back in her deck chair, to my carefully hidden attention.
“We find ways. Family’s very important to Dad,” she said. “We’re products of that upbringing.”
“I guess. It’s no bad thing. I wish I could see my cousins as often as you get to see yours. Outside of school, obviously.”
When it was time to go, I stood at the edge of the patio watching the aircars fly off. The party had broken up early, it was barely 2000 hours. I glanced over my shoulder to see if there was anyone left in the house, and I saw Vulkan pointing at me, though his eyes were on his daughter. Venus shrugged in response to something he said, and he stared at her for a second before sighing and nodding nonchalantly. She clapped her hands together and hugged him, though her head barely came up to his waist. After a moment, she ran out and grabbed my hand, dragging me back to the house.
“Come on, we’re staying.”
“We are?” I asked, befuddled.
“Sure. It’s movie night,” she said, opening the door long enough to let the dog out and push me inside.
“Movie night?” I echoed. “Uh. OK. What were you talking about with your father just now?”
“The Arbitrator Senioris back there was just rendering judgment,” she said, rolling those beautiful eyes in exasperation. “He says you’ve passed muster.”
“Oh…uh, what, to go out with you?” I asked, flushing bright red.
“No, to join the Fire Drakes. Of course to go out with me! But there are certain rituals that must be observed first, and foremost among them is to watch ‘Attack of the Unliving Grox’ with the LaughTrax filter over it,” she said. I stood there, dumbfounded, watching her backside disappear up the stairs to where she had told me before the private theater was.
Misja saw me standing there as she walked by and leaned in. “Welcome to the family, Jake. Get used to it.”
Meeting Jaghatai Khan
Andrew sat on his idling bike for a second, steeling himself. He had met the guy before. This would be cake. He glanced up at the surprisingly ornate house next to him, and took a deep breath. Here goes nothing…
He kicked the stand out from the bike and thumbed the stud, sticking his hands in his jacket pockets to stave off the chill. The oversized driveway up to the house had seen a lot of use. There were gouges in a couple places, he saw, all leading up to the massive garage. A babble of distant voices from the garage caught his ear as he approached. Did the Khan have company over, or something?
Just as he angled off the drive to the front door, however, the garage groaned open, and an oil-stained techpriest ambled out. “My pleasure, Mistress Hana,” he said over his shoulder. He spotted Andrew and paused. “Who might you be, young man?” he asked, eying the leather-clad boy over.
“Uh, hi. I’m Andrew, Hana invited me over,” Andrew said, jerking his thumb at his ride by the curb.
“Ah, yes. She’s in the garage,” the techpriest said, walking over. He leaned in closer and added conspiratorially “and she’s not the only one expecting you.”
“Gee, thanks,” Andrew said drily. The techpriest walked over to where his own aircar was parked.
Hana poked her head out the garage and waved at the techpriest, then spotted Andrew and smirked. “Hey, there he is. How ya’ been?”
“Great, thanks,” Andrew said back, walking over and peering into the garage. “Wow. Great setup here.”
“Thanks,” Hana said smugly. The array of tools, parts, and containers looked like an auto shop that a true motorhead would approve of; the floor was scuffed and the tools scratched and faded, but nothing out of place or dirty.
“I parked my own ride at the curb, if that’s OK,” Andrew said, glancing around the spacious room.
“Sure. Want to bring it in?” Hana asked, cocking her head at the bike at the road. As if it was even an option not to.
“Hell yeah, I’ll go bring it up,” Andrew said. He fished the keys out of his pocket and jogged back down, then walked it back up to the garage. On the way back, however, he noticed someone else had arrived in the garage. The massive form of Jaghatai Khan himself was lurking in the back of the room, rooting through the tool kits and workbench boxes.
“Hey, Andrew. You remember Dad, right?” Hana asked innocuously. Like anyone could forget losing a race to a White Scar, let alone THE White Scar.
“I do. Hello, Lord Khan,” Andrew said, sticking his hand out to shake. Jaghatai actually stared for a moment before taking the proffered hand.
“Hello, Andrew.” Khan glanced over the machine Andrew was wheeling up, almost as critically as he had the kid himself. “Made a few changes, I see.”
“I did indeed,” Andrew said, running his hand over the seat. “A few repairs, but mostly improvements.”
“Almost sounds like someone’s up for a rematch,” the Khan said, grinning menacingly.
Andrew narrowed his eyes and stared right back, smiling. “It does, doesn’t it?”
Hana looked from one man to the other, then cleared her throat. “Well…glad to see you two are hitting it off.”
Jaghatai chuckled. Andrew wheeled his ride over into one of the open parking slots on the floor and kicked the stand in. “Do you mind if I just set it here, Hana?”
“Go right ahead. Dad?” she glanced over at the door to the house. Jaghatai took the hint and followed her over.
“What is it?” he asked when Andrew was out of earshot.
“Remember, he’s MY boyfriend,” Hana said mockingly.
“Funny,” Jaghatai shot back, grinning. “He’s fine. Gutsy, just shaking my hand like that. Nobody does that.”
“I’ll let him know he has your rubber stamp,” Hana said. “See you tonight?”
“Yeah, just be back by 1800-ish,” Jaghatai said, opening the door and walking through. “Bye.”
Hana nodded her farewell and turned on her heel, heading straight back to where Andrew was admiring the colossal attack bike the Khan had stashed in the back.
“Hey. You ready to head out?” she asked, squeezing his shoulder and running her hand over the leather seat.
“You bet. Where you wanna go?” Andrew asked, a bit surprised. Why had he even bothered pulling his bike indoors?”
“Who even gives a fuck?” Hana asked, grabbing her jacket off the back of her own machine and tugging it on. “Just take me somewhere.”
“Works for me,” Andrew said with a grin. He straddled the seat and gunned the engine, smiling broadly as Hana’s arms wrapped around his waist. He started up the engine, sealing his helmet on as Hana did the same.
Jaghatai watched them peel off through the door of the house, shaking his head. “They grow up so fast. Damn shame, too, that kid could have made a good Attack Rider…”
Sam glanced up at the large mansion before him, and despite himself felt a chill of trepidation. It stood at the top of the rise, its presence imposing, dominating. No one could move within miles without noticing it. It was large, almost unnaturally so. A large lawn with an entire small forest and surprisingly flowers as well surrounded it, which brightened the garden magnificently. The lawn was surrounded by a fortified wall, but the wall was not over the top as some of the other Primarch’s homes had, like Peturabo’s or Dorn’s. The wall had a row of decorative spikes along the top in the shape of crescent moons and slitted eyes. The house itself was pearl white with Cthonian glyphs carved into the walls, a black roof, and above the main entrance, the massive form of the Eye of Terra, the Eye of Horus, ever watching.
Its gaze was unnerving and reminded Sam that he had to get a move on, so he took a deep breath, walked through the front gates and approached the front door. Calming himself, he pushed the doorbell. After a few minutes, he heard footsteps, and then the door finally opened.
“You made it! Glad you are on time, my dad likes punctuality.” Isis said smiling and giving him a quick peck on the cheek. Inwardly, Sam winced. He had heard tales from his friends about what had happened when boys had met the Royal Daughter’s fathers. While some had been lucky, many had been scared badly and refused to talk about what happened.
That would not happen to him, Sam decided. He would stand up for himself, and he would impress the Warmaster. As he decided these, he followed Isis, not paying attention to where she was leading him.
Still lost in thought, he entered a doorway that Isis had just disappeared into, not paying attention even as she started talking to someone else. He snapped to attention however, when a deep and melodious voice addressed him by name.
“You must be Sam.” Horus said. His voice was like honey, like steel, like a whisper, like all of those things mixed as one.
“Sammael Askelon, my lord Warmaster.” He stammered. He wanted to bow, to abase himself before the demigod standing before him, but he found he could not. He doubted he could move a single muscle at that moment.
“Not so formal, please, Sam. Horus will suffice.” Horus chuckled. “Your last name is Calibanian. Are you from my Brother Jonson’s world?”
“Yes, my…Horus.” Sam was calmer, gratefully put at his ease by the Warmaster’s informality. “My great grand-parents were one of the noble houses who supported his campaign against the Great Beasts there before the arrival of the Emperor.”
“My brother has often spoken of those times, of how he could never have completed his campaign without the support of the noble houses. He could never thank anyone, so I will. Thank you Sam, for the service your ancestors provided.”
Sam nodded sheepishly. Horus smiled and changed the subject. “So, you’re the one Isis has been telling me about? She has high praise for you Sam. High praise indeed.” He looked over at his daughter, who smiled at Sam.
“I trust you know that by being with my beloved daughter, there are standards you will have to maintain.”
“I would expect nothing less, Horus.” Sam replied bravely. “I knew what I would be getting into by taking this step, but Isis is worth any trial or tribulation.”
“I like a man who’s proud enough to speak his mind to me.” Horus replied. Isis beside him was beaming, her inhuman orange eyes sparkling. “Now, where are you two going?”
Sam reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of tickets. “The Holos. There’s a film about Ollanius Pius we’re going to see.” “No braver man.” Horus remarked. “His boy goes to school with you, does he not?”
“Yes father.” Isis replied. “But he doesn’t like me, not in the slightest. He’s the one who cheated me out of school president, getting Roberta the spot.” She frowned. “He’s with Faith. They make the perfect couple, never going anywhere. I’ve never even seen them kiss. Not like Sam and me.”
Horus smiled, but said, “Well, I trust it won’t go that far. Now enjoy yourselves, and remember to bring her back on time.”
“I will…Horus. You can count on me.”
“I can feel I’m warming to you already, Sam.” Horus boomed, grinning broadly as he watched the two of them departing. Once the sound of footsteps faded, he sat back down and after a pause, reached for the vox.
“Brother Jonson,” Horus said, “The Askelon family. They’re yours, I hear. How trustworthy are they?”
Alternative Meeting Horus
Julius looked up at awe at the massive façade of the wing of the Imperial Palace where Isis lived. Even now he wondered how he found himself here, and started reminiscing before he could stop himself. He was always a competitive and hard working person, a straight A student who invested almost everything in his work, a natural leader whose greatest hope was to become an officer in the Imperial Army. As his close friend T.G said, he ‘got shit done.’
Isis was much the same, a leader and learner and the two had become at first friendly rivals, and then study buddies, pushing each other to their limits. Soon he went to all of her Sports Games, cheering her on. And now he was taking her on a date, a proper date. He tried not to think about who her Father was, that fact fell across everything like a deep dark shadow. But she had reassured him that he was almost always out dealing with matters of the Imperium. The way she said that left Julius with the distinct impression that she was somewhat bitter that her father was almost never there for her. He hoped that nothing would ever come of that kernel of bitterness, but deep down he worried...
He reached the front door, a massive steel bulkhead with gilded images of the Warmaster’s many triumphs etched into its surface. A doorbell was wired in nearby, and he gently thumbed it. For what seemed an age there was silence, until the door slid open and a shadow emerged from it.
Standing before him was a demi-god, a giant clad in green-gold armour that looked like it barely contained him, and would burst apart with a single move. A great cloak of fur sat over his shoulders, and one hand was encased in a massive claw as big as Julius’s entire body. Julius had a sudden sickening image of that claw throttling him.
The giant stared down at Julius and said with a voice of thunder: “Who are you, and what do you want?”
It was impossible not to prostrate yourself before the Warmaster, and not just because he was the second most powerful man in the entire Imperium after the Emperor Himself. Julius had read in an account by the Remembrancer Karkarsy that the Warmaster was like a force of nature trapped in humanoid form, and seeing that proven close up made it seem an affront not to bow down before him. Julius tried to find his voice, but it had deserted him. A voice came up from behind Horus.
“Father, is that Julius?”
Hearing Isis’s voice gave Julius back his tongue, and he managed to force out. “Mmmyyyy lord Warmaster, I I I want…”
The giant smiled down at him, a sudden shift that almost bowled over Julius. “So, you are the boy my Daughter told me about. Come now, rise.” A great hand reached down and lifted Julius to his feet.
Behind him was Isis, resplendent in a dress of shimmering white. She smiled at him, gesturing slightly at the giant before her. The resemblance was unmistakeable.
“My Daughter has told me so much about you.”
Even though he’d found his voice, he could barely raise it above a whisper. “Good things I hope.”
“She offers rare praise about you. Isis, can you leave us alone for a moment?”
Isis nodded and vanished into the building. Horus turned to Julius.
“I rarely get to spend time with my daughter. I am my Father’s right hand and a few fingers of his left as well.” He smiled at the joke. “And thus I am constantly moving from place to place, keeping everything together. This is my first visit home in nearly a year, and I have to go in a few hours to negotiate with the Interex. I trust you’ve heard of them?” He nodded. “I care for my daughter, more than anything. I have already read all your files, and I know you are a good person. You better take good care of her, or if you don’t, I might sic one of my brothers on you, and I assume you have heard what Angron or Kurze can be capable of. Understood?”
Julius gulped and nodded. Horus laughed and slapped him on the back, sending him sprawling.
“Sorry, forget my own strength sometimes. I have something for you.” He handed Julius a boxy object.
“A Teleport Homer. If anything happens, activate it and within ten seconds my First Captain and a Squad of Justaerin Terminators will be on your position. And if you see First Captain Abaddon, don’t speak to him. Ever since he lost his arms to that Daemon Prince he’s never been the same. Oh, and how’s your father doing?”
Julius winced. He tried to keep his father’s identity a secret, even Isis didn’t know who he was.
“He’s doing well. Misses the old days though.”
“Understandable. He’s got more medals than I have. Suicidally brave, that one.” Horus raised his voice. “Isis! He’s all yours!”
Isis re-emerged, and led him away to a waiting Stormhawk.
As they left, Isis said to him. “I hope Father didn’t overawe you. He can be a bit protective, though he does let me get away with a lot more than my cousins.”
As they left, Horus watched them go and then flipped open a personal communicator. “Ollanius Pius, you sly old dog. I just met your son.”
Meeting 'The Lost'
I stared down at the address written on my dataslate, before lifting my gaze to the structure imbedded in the ground like some form of unexploded bomb. The Heavyset rockcrete bunker looked a little out of place amidst the other houses in the street, the front lawn had been torn up, and replaced with some form of dark grey earth. A pair of mounted guns sat idle on the roof, blackened barrels aimed down at the destroyed lawn. I swallowed hard before gingerly walking across the shattered stone path towards the thick bulkhead that formed the door. The sentry guns immediately tracked, turning to follow me as I kept walking. I swallowed hard, this was bloody terrifying. The dull thud of a shell being loaded caused me to freeze. I slowly tilted my head to look up as the weapon took aim. “Shit” was all I managed before a rubber shell erupted from the barrel with a sharp bang. The projectile slammed into my chest and knocked me flat on my arse. A second shot thudded into the ground beside me. To be honest I was more concerned with sucking air into my crushed lungs, gasping for breath I clambered to my feet and began backing away. Another bark of the gun and I hit the ground once more, staring up at the sky as I felt consciousness slipping away. The faint sound of the bulkhead opening and feet padding across the dirt towards me sounded in my ears, just before Persephone’s face appeared, hovering above me, a mix of concern and rage on her face. “Kaiden!” she cried out “are you ok?” all I could manage was a pained wheeze. Persephone turned back to the house, glaring at someone in the doorway “DAD!” she shouted “you could have killed him!” then blackness filled my vision and I passed out.
I came to in a darkened room. Persephone sitting beside me. She was wearing a dark grey vest top, her raven black hair tied back in a ponytail. It took a few moments before I realised I couldn’t feel my hand, for the most part because she was gripping it so tightly. “I’m so sorry” she muttered “Dad told me he’d turned the defences off” I sat up, my head swimming. Persephone’s other hand came up to steady me “I’m ok” I assured her. She smiled, the pain immediately vanished and some small part of me felt like I could run the gauntlet of her front yard again. “How many times did you get hit?” she asked “Twice” I grunted climbing out of the small cot and taking a moment to steady myself. Persephone straightened up and took my hand again “I’m glad you’re ok” she stated, I responded with a weak smile “So am I” she laughed, before lifting a hand to her mouth to try and stifle the outburst. Leading me out of the room I was guided into what was most likely the hallway. Tall reinforced girders arched across the ceiling, the house seemed much bigger on the inside. The girl at my shoulder observed my bemused expression before explaining “We’re underground” she stated “Dad thought it the best way to keep a low profile” I chuckled “Sentry guns are not a low profile.” she shrugged “Keeps the neighbours at bay” she winked before releasing my hand “I’m going to go get changed quickly, wait here for a few minutes” I dutifully nodded and Persephone vanished through another of the reinforced bulkheads. I waited in the room for a few moments before walking over to a series of framed picts on the wall. Several were of Persehpone as a kid, in one she was standing beside a large swimming pool, staring into the water intently. Another saw her seated behind a large cake, grinning, a large silhouette behind her. Another of her lifting her boxing glove clad fists in triumph, an unconscious boy, much bigger than she was, passed out at her feet. I chuckled to myself before moving on to the next pict. Persephone wasn’t in this one, Just a collection of huge men clad in Astartes Plate, in a myriad of colours. Was her dad ex military. I jumped as static crackled through a device in the wall. “Persephone sweetie, could you bring my combat blade down to the gym, I left it in the hall” the voice echoing through the vox system seemingly shook the room with a deep base rumble. That must have been her dad. I froze for a few moments, unsure what to do. I could see the large blunted blade leaning against the far wall, I bit my lip. Summoning what courage I had I walked over and picked up the weapon before walking through the bulkhead marked ‘Gym’.
Rythmic banging sounds echoed through the dimly lit corridors as I slowly made my way to the gym. This corridor was more decorated than the parts of the house I had seen. Large trophies hung from the unpainted walls, huge Xeno heads and old weapons. Suits of Astartes armour, painted in colours I didn’t recognise from the history books stood to attention either side of me, their knight like faces angled as if staring at someone much taller than I was. I reached the entrance to the gym and cautiously entered. The banging increased in volume “Mister Rival?” I called out, the noise stopped. An uncomfortable silence filled the air as I awaited a response. I squinted into the gloom at the far end of the room, I could make out a punching bag, gently swinging to and fro and a colossal figure standing beside it, its eyes fixed on me. This had been a bad decision. The colossal beast strode forwards, closing in with frightening speed. The darkness parted to allow the huge man into the light. His top half was bare, a white towel hanging around his shoulders. Like Persephone, his hair was a deep black, his eyes were the same as hers too, a piercing green. In her they made me feel that little bit safer, under these circumstances they made me feel as though my eyeballs were about to melt. Over the man’s right eye was a tattoo, the II that I had seen Persephone scrawling inside some of her textbooks. I lifted the heavy blade into his eye line “I brought you your sword” I whimpered. There was a long uncomfortable pause “So” he grunted “you’re Kaiden. I’ve heard a lot about you” I smiled weakly, feeling as though my legs were about to give out beneath me. The man took the blade and examined it momentarily before hurling it across the room, the pointed tip imbedding itself in the punching bag. Then he turned his gaze back to me. His face broke into a smile and clapped me on the shoulder “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, it’s not often Persephone brings a boy home, I thought I’d have a little fun, please forgive me” “It’s… don’t worry about it sir” I stammered. Mr Rival laughed “Sir? Please, call me Valdes” he released my shoulder and turned to remove his towel. I could make out a second tattoo on his back, the familiar shape of the Imperial Eagle printed across his shoulder blades “I’m sorry about that whole ordeal with the sentry guns by the way, completely my fault, I had meant to shut them off, although it seems as though it may have slipped my mind. Good to see you’re alright.” He turned back to me and grinned sheepishly “let me know if there’s anything I can do to make up for that little… blunder” “It’s fine… Valdes, really, no harm done” the huge man nodded thoughtfully “If you say so.” Persephone burst into the room, and quickly walked over to where I was standing. She looked amazing. Her hair was now arranged in a series of elaborate plaits, held together by silver clasps. She glared up at her father, and then to me “He didn’t interrogate you did he?” she asked. I shook my head. “You look lovely sweetie” Valdes stated, his daughter blushed, her temper calming “Thanks Daddy” she hooked her arm around mine and began to slowly pull me towards the exit “Have fun” Valdes called out “and get her back before twenty-three hundred” he added with a wink.
As we got outside Persephone turned to me, looking a little embarrassed “You ok? you look a little pale.” I nodded hastily, before asking the question that had been bugging me since I saw the photo in the hall “Was your dad in the military?” Persephone smiled “You could say that.”