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Go to Slave to Rage Angron's fall to Chaos during the Great Treachery
The Golden Honey
Prologue: The Tree
Lotarra had never been in nature before, and it reeked. There was a stink to the whole place. It was pervasive but it wasn’t like the putrid filters of the bio waste facilities on her ship or in some of the more untidy quarters, those always had the same familiar unpleasant smells the putrid smell was in competition with itself, the different fauna and flora emitting musks and spores in their bid for air superiority. She heard a voice towards the center of the garden, “He is The Beginning, Change is The End, The Split soul will kill his father, and his patron too. He will part the sea of souls.” Lortarra should perhaps have been scared but to her the situation was so surreal, and outside of her previous realm of familiarity she would not have known what to be afraid of. Fear after all is a rational response to a potential threat, and nothing here was familiar at all. “By the Throneworld, what did Lorgar bring me to?” she wondered. The Emperor’s son was a strange one, but she had no reason to distrust him, especially in matters regarding the unknown. The answer to The World Eaters was here, she was told, and if so she must brave the area. She owed it to The Conqueror, to Kharn, To Angron. She allowed herself to be drawn towards the center of the swamp, taking in more of the overwhelming colors, sights, and smells that made this place. Such a variety in colors and shapes, an explosion of Fibonacci spirals and fractals to be taken in. A hauntingly soprano sung inside her head, “Worlds eaten, vengeance repaid in full, an eglet of blood hatches gold.”
As she approached a giant tree in the middle of the marsh with great vines and branches teeming around the tree. Outside of her gaze pacing around the tree was what looked to be an Eldar. “Wolves without Packs, Angels without Halos, Cast from The Parliament, the Raven becomes a Crow.” The disheveled and unkempt creature muttering things in a madman’s song. What was likely once-regal robes and garments were in ruins. Barely hidden by her matted and disheveled hair was a golden collar, the chain of which stretched to the great tree in the center.
The Captain felt drawn to the tree in the center, despite something in the back of her mind warning her from going farther. She had no idea who the beautiful xenos creature was before her, but perhaps she too was lured in by the tree. The poor xenos creature echoed in her mind, her beautiful instrument-like voice was tarnished with some sickness inside, but the corruption only served to underscore sorrowful tragedy, like a master performer playing on a broken instrument. A new voice appeared in her head, “What brings you from the hive, Insect?” Lotarra recoiled from the new voice, it spoke with a strange syrupy ichor. “I am no insect, show yourself!” She barked. The chained creature whimpered, or did it cackle? The trees and swamps bubbled and bobbed. The voice continued, “Insect is no insult, little larva. You bring death to sow new life. A great insect you are, indeed.” Lotarra searched the bog for the origin of the voice. Speaking with trepidation as her eyes searched the surroundings. “You are mistaken, I am Captain of The Imperial Navy, and Commander of The Death Conqueror.” The xenos woamn cackled, “The Two Thirteens makes one Thirteen, Five. Thirteen is Three, Thirteen is Five Hundred, Five Hundred is Two-Thousand, Two-Thousand is None.” Lorarra realized it was the Tree speaking to her, The Great Tree had no human like features, but seemed to somehow meet her gaze in recognition. “You destroy q, level cities, take bloated peoples and let new life grow on top of their corpses. You organize decay for life to grow. Life is hostile to new life, you know this, and you fight it. My insects and creatures engage with life unwilling to accept its term.”
“You..” Lortarra struggled tired to phrase the word, falling back on long forgotten superstition. “You are a god?” She looked intensely at the tree, what she thought was merely bark revealed itself to be intricate symbols and runes she couldn’t hope to understand. Insects, fungus and foliage spread around the tree, colonies and microcivilizations all coalescing into a single organism. “A god of death?... Am I dead?” The branches and bog laughed warmly. Lotarra’s skin was surrounded by an unconventional warmth. It did not feel like the heat of the ship, it was more...organic than that. Pollen and particles tickled the hairs on her neck. The xenos ignored the dialogue, muttering the things to herself.
“A table will be set for devours, but your children will starve. Food will be presented which you will not eat. But others will eat your fill. The Crows will plague the Gardens, and feast it barren.” The Great Tree continued, “I am new life, Pupae, not death. Life without death is exhaustion, death without life is no death at all. All life must be allowed to rest, I protect life, for life must have its balance and cycle. But there are those who exhaust life, force it to burn. Your Emperor gives death without life, he leaves planets barren and lifeless. Just as he gives life without death. Your treatments and longevity, they burn your body with exhaustion. The cells who serve you have not been allowed to die. They cry to me for release from their life. New life within you is stillbirthed. Life without death and death without life. He is a god of Death.”
“The Emperor is not a god! There are no gods!” Lotarra snapped back, though her disciplined response felt foreign to her as it escaped your lips. “You are right.” it chortled, “No one is a god, insect. God is act, not being. Your emperor takes command of your race, and acts as god. But in doing so he also acts as god of death. He acts as god of life, and as such he demands death. He demands death from your planets, from your crew, and… from your World Eaters. His life demands that all die.” The Xenos psaltered on, “Malice everywhere. Beasts and Iron awaken. Man’s two lights snuffed out. A mad son prepares for sanity to die. One hydra devours another, Heaven and Earth in war.” Lotarra was taken aback. “What are you speaking of. Cease with the riddles.” The forest rumbled and gurgled, and Lotarra felt the swamp change temperature, the bog began to rise around her. Lotarra struggled to move, the swamp and mud covering her knees and ankles. She was terrified but somehow the mud was comfortingly warm. As though the rest of her body was cold and miserable. She should just lay down and let the mud consume her. The xenos cackled, sobbed, and cackled again. Then stooped to drink from the mud. Lotarra stood with her mouth agape, trying to process the circumstance around her. Long enough for a single bee to fly into her mouth. Lortarra choked. The Tree continued. “I have so much to teach and reveal to you about your Queen, pupae. Your queen threatens your colony. I will feed you my knowledge.” The Mud continued to rise, now to her waist, the brown water crawling up her white tunic and Red Handprint. The Xenos moved towards her. “I will make you a queen, little larva, but you must grow. Let me help you grow.” Lotarra, was now up to her shoulders in mud the towering xenos almost standing on top of her. Out of fear she reached out her hands to the Aeldari woman. “You ask your god about “Molech let him show you his true designs. And consider the gifts i have to give you.” Desperately reaching out the Xenos grabbed her hands, bent down, and opened Lotarra’s mouth. Bending over as though to kiss her, the xenos vomited into her whatever bile she had drank. The mud was inside Lotarra now she could feel it caking and hardening both outside her skin and inside it. The mud was now above her neck, her knees still planted in the mud. Lotarra gagged and choked. The last she heard was the Great Tree, “Consider your colony, little queen.” Lotara gasped for air, breathing in the sterile purified air of her ship. She awoke to a sweat-drenched cot in her spartan quarters. Lorgar’s Amulet cold metallic gathered sweat and chilled her bare flesh. She clasped it with both hands, hoping to normalize the temperature, it didn't. She looked around the Captain’s quarters, completely dark save the few emergency lights, and the soft glow of her dataslate. The plainness of her living space made the bottles of Lorgar’s concoction more apparent. She quickly snatched the bottles and hid them away, sweat drenched hands nearly causing the bottle to slip. She quickly cleaned herself and prepared for her shift as though nothing had happened. Before leaving she grabbed her dataslate but looked at an encrypted message. It was from one of the Emperor’s other sons, “Alpharius” the message held several files labeled with a simple message. “Sigilite:Autopsy_XII.” She thought of the dream, and the word of the Tree, “Molech.” She had to know, her crew’s life depended on it. Angron depended on it.
A century of centuries later...
Part 1 The Primarchs
“But Cadia still stands?” Angron asked. “We can no longer hope it will,” replied Lorgar's exhausted shadow. “Of course, Perturabo insists that his fortress is a mathematically impregnable perfection, and that "The mindless masses of man could not capably conceive to concoct a stratagem sufficient to succeed and subdue my citadel.” Their brother, polymath and Viceroy to the Prince of Excess, likely said this with the rhythmic cadence that accompanied all of Perturabo's speeches, but the embattled and weary Lorgar repeated each haughty boast like items in a cargo manifest of hubris. The shadow was perfectly still. “I have my doubts about its capabilities, and after Macharios, even more about its actual purpose. I will not sacrifice the eye for Cadia.” Angron nodded at this, leaning back in his chair. He shifted the weight towards a contemplative position, with his left arm leaning on the armrest of the golden and marble seat, embossed with defaced Aquila’s, skulls, and long forgotten symbols of Ultramar, spoils from a glorious, now ancient victory. The holographic form of Lorgar continued, “Our brother’s single-minded pursuit of the perfect fortress could lead our enemies outflanking us, but I have long since given up the hope to chastise or critique him. You are welcome to confront him about it if you like,” The runes tattooed on his face creased as Lorgar forced a wry smile, “After all, no one understands foolish suicidal assaults and seeking death better than you.” The seated primarch briefly lightened his expression in simple homage to an old joke.
“We may be equals now given your current plans, brother. Your proposal for a Black Crusade at this time is madness. Saporin and I still have not recovered our numbers from the raid by the Night Lords or by the previous failed crusade.” “Nor have I,” Lorgar’s projection responded, the grey shadow cast a dim shadow in Angron’s quarters, flickering amid The World Eater’s collection of both trophies and carnivorous plants, both gathered from across the galaxy over his many conquests. Standing like a pillar in the center of the room, the champion of chaos broke eye contact with Angron, seemingly staring at The large Catachan death weed sprouting from the helm of a Luna Wolf Sergeant. “The Black Legion is still heavily undermanned, but I don’t believe we have a choice. I hope that the alliances with Imperium Undivided will augment us, but even if not, we must proceed. We both know that Terra is preparing its own offensive, and now even the Eldar are too. Yvraine tastes blood in the water, and likely sees our weakness as an opportunity to unite the craftworlds.” Lorgar once again looked Angron in the eyes, his greenish grey reflection dancing of the gold of Angron’s stolen throne, the blades that dangled from his wrists, and the earthy brown of his eyes. “Our best hope is to take advantage of the Imperium’s T'au distraction and destroy some of the pylons that contain the Eye. At the very least, to raid some of the wealthier planets of the Imperium. What we can not do is wait and risk the Eye of Terror by depending upon our brother’s crenelated vanity project.”
Locking eyes with the flickering shadows where Lorgar’s eyes should be, Angron leaned forward. “Then why drag Imperium Undivided into this? If things are truly this dire, do we really want to entangle ourselves with them? I know they would only agree to this in exchange for help.” Angron placed his elbows on his knees not breaking eye-contact with the Lord of Chaos, “I'll tell you this right now Lorgar, I won't allow a single one of my World Eaters or Saporin's drones to die on Sotha just because you owe them a favor.”
“You won’t have to,” Lorgar glanced over to what was likely a computer screen, but from Angron’s perspective he was inspecting another of his trophies. This one an Omnissiahan axe enveloped with exotic vines with deep purple thorns. The Skull of Mars in the center of the axe was defaced with an eight-pointed star. “Luther’s little experiment is not sinking - Angron - his ship of state is already underwater. Imperium undivided has not recovered from losing its beacon and capital on Sotha. Fabius Bile has vanished without a trace, taking most of his genelabs and expertise with him. And while Luther will not admit it, hostilities with Royum Ultramar have all but ceased. For all practical purposes, they are vassals of Ultramar, with the worshippers of our brother leading most of the defenses against the Tyranids.” Lorgar’s tone, perhaps finding some solace in little strategic gains, strengthened. “That is also why this Black Crusade must happen.” Scraping some passion from conviction, he continued, “The forces of Chaos can no longer afford Luther’s Schism. This Crusade will be an opportunity to salvage what's left of Luther’s armies and save them from dying with his foolish ideology.” Angron nodded, it was an understandable premise, if several centuries too late. “Is this why you ordered Typhus and his ilk accompany me in my raids of Macharia.”
“I hope I am not asking too much of your patience, Angron.” The armored shade spoke empathetically. “Typhus and his Plague Guard can be difficult to stomach, but hopefully you can see that putting aside your rivalry benefits our cause as a whole.” Angron smiled, and with a contemptuous chuckle replied, “Rivalry is too strong a word, brother. The only fear I have with that Barbaran outcast is that he will give my ship a Venereal Disease.” “Of that there is no doubt, but an irritation is still an irritation. Your sensitivity towards this matter is crucial for my plans, and I am grateful to you. At the very least you and Saporin will be rewarded with Canon fodder.” “She will not like this, you know.” Angron interrupted curtly. “Typhus?” Lorgar asked with barely hidden amusement. “As a fellow child of Nurgle, I would hope she would understand, and I’m only asking you to fight with him, not invite him on board for dinner.”
“No one cares about Typhus,” Angron replied flatly, “You -Know- what I am referring to,” Lorgar’s smile faded and nodded. “This Crusade.” Angron looked past Lorgar’s hologram, through the shadow to a lichen and trophy cover wall, in the center of all of the weapons and foilage was a very out of place painting. The large framed canvas was of Saporin and Angron they once were - a gift from a grateful Perturabo following one of the crusades. Saporin, a woman obsessed with functionality over sentiment insisted it be thrown out. Angron, normally in agreement, secretly kept the painting. The resemblance of the two was perfect and intensely detailed, as all things made by Perturabo's hands with Perturabo's memory were. The painting itself seemed to somehow exude emotion, despite the stiff positions of the figures, and geometric precision of every object. It depicted Angron and Lotara standing under The Great Tree, a hand more soft and smooth than the officer's ever was reached towards Angron's crown, brushing aside the butcher’s nails from his forehead as the implants could be removed with such a soft gesture. Angron’s hand placed against chitonous armor forming on her bare back. Their faces locked in a glance showing a gentle smile neither the suicidal berserker nor the stoic commander ever wore in their miserable brutish lives. Angron was a simple man without much taste for art, but his brother’s gift was perhaps the closest he came to understanding. Nothing about this painting was how it happened, but as a whole it came to speak something to Angron. Caught in a sentiment, reached back to his hand to feel the lichen and vines emerging from his scalp. He thought of the wires that once stood there, feeding pain and barbarism into his skull. Wires and tubes of Archeotech that siphoned the humanity out from him, leaving a writhing, shell of wroth, a rabid dog in the shape of a man. Angron's spiritual transformation was no less drastic and complete, than Lotara's physical one; and the path to it was much more complicated than her hand sweeping it away - and yet, in a sense, it was that simple. Nothing in the painting was accurate, yet every single aspect was true. He was amazed that someone could somehow sculpt a monument of truth out of such well crafted minute lies.
Lorgar interrupted his reflection. “She doesn’t need to like the situation, only recognize its necessity. I understand you are undermanned from the raids, but we both know we are running out of alternatives. This may be our last chance to buy ourselves more time.” Angron got up methodically from his looted throne, and briefly glanced at the ship console behind him, alerting him of his approach to The Death Conqueror. “We will see how her mood is after processing the recent batch of prisoners. I will do this brother. But in return, I want you to order Typhus and any others you can spare to accompany me in future raids. The hive needs bodies to feed on, and if Typhus cannot provide them from raids, he can supply them from his own men.” Lorgar nodded without a word, and the shadow cut as Angron prepared to leave his personal craft to board The Death Conqueror.
Part 2 (The Traveller)
The bullets and the prayers to The Emperor of Mankind brushed past Angron’s face. Both bolter shells and hapless cries were harmless to the great champion, but at least the bullets could nudge the lichen strands and vines that emerged from The Champion’s scalp. Angron merely laughed, reveling in the heat of battle. His two great axes cut through fields of warriors as though they were wheat. The veteran of uncountable wars of 10,000 years, a gruntman was hardly even a human to him anymore, let alone a threat. The Imperium of Man had placed their soldiers for eternity. Banners, uniforms, and warcries change, but little else; a sea of faces, and the war cries, long sense devolved from their original tongues of high gothic, was little more than a garble of unintelligible glottal stops and growls to the ancient warriors. Hardly human to the great gladiator’s consideration, practically part of the wildlife and foliage of the planet, a natural defense like a cactus plant, or the quills of the porcupine, as the insights of father Nurgle had revealed to him.
Though in the eyes of the soldiers of the imperium, Angron and his companions were hardly human themselves. The entire invading army that accompanied Angron had been remade in the image of Nurgle, Lord of Decay, including Angron himself . His genesons, the World Eaters were adorned with Foliage, and insect hives and bore such favor with nurgle proudly. Adding to the cacophony of the battle were the roars of the World Eaters, slaughtering these troops a dozen at a time, and the loud buzzing of Saporin’s Drones. Massive humanoid wasps who collect soldiers, both living and dead. Blessed with the gifts of The Rotfather, Nurgle, the traitor primarch had embraced the eternity of life and the ecosystems granted by the lord of decay. His companions, the fallen gladiators of the red sands, had been reborn and blossomed as the new warriors of The Poxlord. Oeomanos, long-standing mentor of Lord Angron stood alongside his friend and companion, the heavy bark shield absorbing the lasfire and bolter shells of the grunts as the sword tore through the opponents. “Equiana,” Angron bellowed ahead of the throng of faltering troops, “any signs of a proper challenge.” Natal Equiania, fellow companion of Angron, and Lady of The Red Sands was far ahead of the other gladiators grinned. Speaking in the ancient, lost dialect of Nucreria, she spoke her disappointment. “There is nothing here, but the grunts, perhaps Gulliman’s great warriors have abandoned this world.” Equiana wore the old armor of a Piscatores Gladiator, adorned with armor of acacia bark and moss. Her rust and vine covered trident piercing through the flimsy armor of all soldiers foolish enough to come close to her. In her offhand was a net of thorny vines ensaring A Handmaiden of Tarasha. The captured sister of battle frantically chanting her prayers to the Divine Mother as the thorns of the net closing in on her flesh. Without even looking at her prize she continued. “There are no champions, no great warriors on this planet, only the cultists and sycophants of your brother left to die.” Turning back, she watched as the Handmaiden’s horror-struck eyes and dancing lips finally ceased to move. She tossed the fallen sororitas behind her preparing to pursue more warriors. A massive wasp-like creature collected the body and flew off. “Another meal for your beloved’s children Angron.” She cackled.
Oeomanus turned to Angron, “Where are the Champions, Brother? Have the Devourers or the Bluetide claimed the great sons of Gulliman? The settlement here is not insignificant? The Ultramarines would surely send out Astartes to defend it.” Angron laughed at this, “perhaps they have learned from their genefather to run away from true warriors, Oeomanus,” all the while his chain axes drove into a company of Zouaves, their elegant Red and Orange uniforms tattered and stained from the blood that drenched them. “They must be around somewhere, Typhus certainly couldn’t have taken them on.” More of Roboute’s female worshippers, with their painted armor and strange headgear emerged. Taking some of the wounded, and rallying troops. Angron laughed again, and charged into the Ancillae, silencing their supplications to The Aurelian.
Far away from the greedy bloodlust of Angron and his gladiators, The Plague Guard advanced only slowly. Typhus, abandoned son of Mortarion, adopted son of Nurgle would not share in Angron’s foolhardiness. His plague guard, bloated and pox-ridden with the gifts of the Rotfather, would not easily falter, and the filth encrusted warriors of Nurgle absorbing the weapons of the Ultramari warriors. The Konor-produced Galvanic Carbines, which could easily pierce through a Termagant or blueskin armor, did little to affect the cursed ancient armor of The Plague Guard. And yet, despite this seeming invincibility, Typhus would not order his men to charge. Instead, the warriors maintained their pace, encased in the air of blight surrounding them. Typhus and his guard could be heard counting every bolter shell that was fired, counting the time between swings, and even the power expenditures of their suits, all chanted rhythmically by the plague guards, interlaced with chants of praise to Nurgle, lord of death and decay. Typhus, stood in front of the Plague Guard, his great scythe in hand as he methodically reaped the flesh and souls of the Ultramari militia foolish or zealous enough to charge him. Like a metononym with the firing of his battle-brother, Typhus’ methodical sweeps were as though he was a conductor to the rhythmic chants of the Plague guard, a putrid ode to decay and resilience and prayers to Father Nurgle. “A pint of Prometheum, I present to you, oh putrid patron of rot. I offer unto you the lives of these servants of the anathema” Chanted Lt. Skythos, adding his own verse to the numeric cantillations of the Plague guard, his heavy flamer emitting bolts of blue and orange fire onto the zealous Ultramari guard. Typhus acknowledged the chant and continued the refrain “In gratitude for the gifts granted unto us, and to the great decay of the world.” His scythe wavered back and forth through the crowd of charging soldiers as though a metronome, keeping pace for the Plague guard. The planet upon which Typhus and his men fought, were once part of his domains, but a few centuries ago. Nucreria, with its proximity to Sotha, was bequeathed to him. The planet fed his legions and tended his devotional gardens before it fell. Typhus had looked upon the planet with indifference and disdain, and now he stood on it as a stranger, the planet now long under Ultramari hands as The once-proud Imperium Undivided buckled and collapsed under attack. Typhus and his men had already lost much over these centuries, Callas Typhus, Commodore-Knight of Imperium Undivided was now Typhus the Traveller, an army in exile among the stars. He, Luther, Ahriman, and Fabius Bile, once stood alone amongst men, subject only to the gods, but they were foolish and squandered it. Now once again he is taking orders from a primarch, and the least cautious one of all.
Nathaniel Grugor, a fellow warrior of The Plague Guard and fighting alongside the meditating captain, approached Typhus, Herald of Nurgle. “Lord Typhus, Angron and The Lords of The Red Sands are all but out of our sight. Perhaps it would be best if we advanced faster to their position. Neither they nor we are encountering much threat with the Nucrerians here.” The bile in Typhus’ mask could be heard to gather bile as he prepared a response. “Angron, has never been one to practice adaptation, Lord Grugor. He has not traversed Nucreria and Ultramar in the days since he destroyed them..” Phlegm and moisture sucked through the ventilator as Typhus drew breath, “Angron has only seen those Jousts of Primarchs. What The North calls their “Great Crusades,” he doesn’t know or understand as we do.” The low voice of Grugor murmured below the weapons fire and the demonic flies that covered his armor, “Does The Primarch remember that we are here for a raid? Or was he hoping to relive past vengeances here.” The apothecary turned his gaze to a large range of hills off to the distance of the fortification. Known only to the ediatic memory of ancient Astartes, was the knowledge that the eroding hills interred whatever remained of the old hive cities of Nucreria. The civilization that in those more revered of days forced Angron to slavery was long since destroyed, mostly by Angron himself. What remained of Angron’s legend was too distant and mythological for the people of Nuceria to have any connection towards. The forrestine world knows nothing of Red Sands. Herald Typhus, ousted Prince of these lands is a name that carries more traction here now. Typhus collected his thoughts and drew the bile he needed to respond, “Angron still fights as though it is the great crusade.” His respirator hissed out, “Lorgar and his ilk have been sheltered from what has ravaged the Southeast, and that makes them reckless.” His respirator rattled again, all the while another 78 Ultramari warriors had fallen, he had not lost count, “He remembers Gulliman’s Ultramar: The Ultramar of Quills and Laurels. He doesn’t know...the people have seen much and fought more. They are hardier now. Accustomed to death and invasions. . They are used to fighting while weak.” “He will learn, then” Grugor snorted, “and when he does he can return to our defense empty-handed and take whatever share of our hordes he desires.” “Fret not, Gregor” Typhus’ blade swung again, “The rotfather knows every seed of discord we plant, and counts every corpse and illness we make. Reckon ourselves with his reckoning, not Angron’s.”
The veterans of countless wars resisted the growing impetuousness of their underlings. Many of these Plague Guards with Grugor were tributaries from what was once Typhus’ realm. The loss stung them and they were eager to strike down the usurpers to the privileges lost. But the old Barbarans- Typhus, and Grugor- held the leash of their battle-brothers tight. There was no glory hounding, the warriors remained within the cloud of Nurgle's rot and corrosion. This was not from some weakness or lethargy on the part of typhus. The putrid gifts of Nurgle, the diabolical science of Fabius Bile, and the indomitable ambition of Typhus had kept the warrior in his prime long after his comrades had been interred into the stone of a sarcophogi or the steel of the dreadnought. No, the slow deliberation of Typhus came from his experience. These warriors he faced not some blur, he recognized the uniforms and symbols of the uniforms worn. Their bone white and blue uniforms emblazoned with the unmistakable crossbones and U betrayed them as The Pelerins of Maccragge. He had underestimated them once, less than a millenia ago, when they seized Maccrage in Ultramar’s “Quest for the Bones of The Aurelian.” The mistake not only cost them Maccragge, but the troops squandered in the bungled defense were sorely missed when The Tyranids finally claimed Sotha, the Capital of Imperium Undivided. He had watched the regiments grow from militias of desperate fanatics, into a robust army of desperate fanatics. They were not like the myriad of armies and militias that populated the 3000 worlds of Ultramar, those armies often had their own cultural traits, tactics and leadership stratagems. The sclerosis of the Trillileurs, the rigidity of Nova Thulium, or the vulnerability of Prandium had cultural and strategic tendencies that made them exploitable, but the Pelerins had no such culture. The Pelerins were penitent thieves, traumatized civilians, broken soldiers, and spurned children pulled from Gulliman worshippers from across the galaxy. They clogged the orphanages, guesthouses, and pilgrimage sites of Maccragge, only to be redirected to hopeless causes in the name of The Queen Mother and The Holy Bones. There was no unified experience for this army but the shared pilgrimage to Maccragge, and no rival but the one the Spiritual Lieges point them towards. This was not an army, it was a band of Cultists equipped like one, and as such were guided by invisible, powerful, forces. His men needed not tactical prowess, but faith, faith that The Rotfather would not abandon them to The Aurelian. “Pour Sanfyelle, Pour lesost!” Shouted a weathered woman charging towards Typhus. The sawblades of what looked like an only slightly modified stone cutter collided with the hilt of The Manreaper. Sparks and ungodly sounds flew from the hilt as Typhus steeled himself to look into the fire and passion that burned across her face, even as her body was physically retching from the toxins emitted from the blade. As the inhuman strength of Typhus pushed against the old miner a prometheum blast streamed past Typhus’ right shoulder, instantly transforming the old zealot into a blackened husk. “A pint of prometheum, i present to you, oh putrid patron of rot…” Typhus heard faintly behind him. “In gratitude for the gifts granted unto us, and to the great decay of the world.” He rejoined, not breaking his stare with the charred husk, who continued to gaze upon him.
Far ahead, Angron and Oeomanus, now close to Equiana, continued to plow through the hordes of Bone white and red clad troops, crying in a cacophany of cheers and prayers. “Where are your leaders and champions you fools, have your gods abandoned you?” Just as he spoke a low bombastic voice emerged from the crowd. The sound and language was unfamiliar to him, but the song of his seemed to enchant the whole of the squads around him, and slowly the cackles and babbles subsided as the song crested to Angron’s ears as a chorus. The song was foreign but he suspected it about his accursed brother. Did Ultramar sing of anything else? A large figure towered over the throng of soldiers, not as tall as The Gladiators and Angron, but towering over his World Eaters. His silhouette almost resembled Terminator Armor. The Head and Legs were significantly larger, giving the figure a proportionality and elegance that made other Astartes seem brutish and microcephalic. The figure was incredibly ornate, his outfit flowed and rippled with intricately detailed patterns that drew the eyes. The Gladiators did not recognize the face but Angron did. It was the Sanguinor, that mold of Sanguinius’ face worn by Horus and other lackeys of the Warmaster. Features of the face were exaggerated: the eyes were hollow and filled with dizzying array of lights, and in the place of the ears two very large wings. The strange paintscheme and distortions seemed a reverant parody or long standing joke. Angron was surprised by this figure. Not sure what to make of the galavanting minstrel. “Is this the ‘Change in Ultramar’ they warned us about?” Equiana laughed, “Ultramar brings clowns to war?” The song of the minstrel echoed among the soldiers. As harmony arose in their voices, the fighting harmonizes. The once cackling disparate hordes became a chorus of death. They still fell in numbers, but they fell with a song on their lips, but Saporin’s Drones were dying with them. Even a few of The World Eaters were brought low as Zouave squads hit chinks in the armor. The mantled figure prepared to spar by unsheathing his rapier and locking eyes with Angron. Angron growled and the figure spoke something in a language that Angron could not understand and had no interest in trying. A world eater charged towards the figure, axe ready to swipe. The figure dodges in an elegant backstep, as though posing for a dance. In his right hand the pincer blade elongated and pulsating with a strange energy. There was hardly a blade alongside the edge of the sword, merely a white hot point; it was a weapon of precision and skill which taunted the primarch with its haughtiness. The World Eater was quickly outmaneuvered by the dancing clownish figure. He takes him out with ease. The Rapier pierces through the neck, traveling through his chest and exiting through the power pack. Angron hears the gargling of blood through the radio as the World Eater falls down dead, as the Towering figure laughs and kicks the World Eater off of his sword. “Konsa toujou pou move loa.” Angron was no longer amused by the figure. He roars in horror at the act and charges towards this strange man whose cackles echo in Angron’s skull. He swings, but the blade of the mysterious figure, and his dazzling costume seem to glance every attack. None of his axes seem to land and attempts to slash the figure seem to miss or only glance at the many billowy folds and endless pieces of fabric and purity seals that weave together around this figure. Was this a demon of Gulliman? He had never seen them before, but it was though the figure had no true shape, except to mock Angron. They engage again, all of Angron’s swipes and attacks miss, all the while the figure pierces and prods at The Great Primarch. Each pierce of The Rapier causes new malfunctions in his power suit. His frustration with the creature grows, he had fought tougher enemies before, but his flamboyance was almost engineered to anger him. It was everything that Angron despised in the Imperium; it was flamboyant and aristocratic. Its aura was of martial nobility, of the superiority of war as art rather than brute experience. Angron was completely focused on the duelist before him now. No longer noticing the soldiers around him, raptured in the song that was felling World Eaters and Drones around him. “tout bèl pouvwa Seyè a zo apopou bondye, Mais Je veax pas’en aller, le’ost des os fidelite!” The Gladiators struggled against the surging tides of Men and Kroot as the song came louder, the firing of the weapons hit harder as it served as percussion to the song. The drones that were flying above seem to drop like flies behind the enraged primarch while his companions plea for him to retreat and fall on deaf ears. The Lady of The Red Sand and Oeomanus, were being forced to fall back, now struggling against the supernatural abilities of the horde. Embarrassed and humiliated by their situation, they were falling behind Angron. They look to reunite with The Primarch, no longer even trying to kill the swarm of pilgrims, they merely want them out of the way. The great sheild of Oeomanus plowed through the figures, with Equiana close behind, her net and trident, deterring the Winged Kroot warriors. They were within a hundred yards of Angron, before they could suddenly no longer move. Equiana looked around her, they were surrounded. Nearly two dozen Ancillae, and Astartes surrounded them. The Astartes were dressed in archaic armor, similar to The World Eaters, but this armor and shield were meticulously polished, and carefuly engraved with holy symbols, medallians, and purity seals. The Figures chanted their Litanies, “Elektra ducat manus me. Lumelle, lumene oculi me, Casquede’Rouge, specte me. Sacra Martyres Calthi fortise me.” The Astartes and their Handmaidens all wore gleaming Silver Armor, and Red Helmets. Angron, likely didn’t know of these figures, but The two Gladiators did. They were “The Knights of St. Aeonid.” All of the warp knew of Calth’s Demonslayers. How did they know they were here? This was not a raid, it was a trap, they were afraid and lamenting their previous cockiness. “Natala et Oeomanus In Nome Sanfyelle et Gulliman, Je dephicshio ad te latombe.” Two Ancillae with a book continued to chant. The Wall of Gold and Silver Shields and Reliquaries encased them in holy symbols. They cried to Angron for help, but he could not hear them. Meanwhile the figure continues to dance around Angron, mocking him in his foreign tongue. Angron suspects he understood a few of them, “Gheeman,” the accursed name of his brother was mentioned at least once. The rage swelling up inside Angron continues to amass, intensifying the battle’s tempo. Angron’s Armor lie in Piles around the battle site, forced to discard it piece by piece as it malfunctioned. He was dressed only in The Black Carapace and his gloves. His Axes Still Chained to his wrist. The Waltz, became a salsa, then becomes a Tango. Those World Eaters who remained retreated to Typhus’ foothold gather as many of the bodies as they can, warding off their prizes from the death chorus that was once an army. The Plague Guard prepare for an evacuation to The Terminus Est, encouraging The World Eaters to join them. Gathering as many supplies loot as possible. Typhus, seeing the horde of warriors entrapping the two demons, ordered his army to steer clear of the Knights, and slowly march to Angron. As much as the Primarch irritated him, He knew Nurgle would prefer His Champion survive over two daemons. Back at the duel, Angron can see the primitive power armor of More Ecclesiastic Chapters. The Ultramarine high priests are not here to fight Angron but merely to support the strange Sanguinor, and the soldiers themselves, taking the wounded and blessing the dead. The army has already won the battle, and is preparing to clean up, only some archaic tradition of the duel is keeping Angron from being swarmed by the soldiers. Once again, after 10,000 years, Angron, the Gladiator of The Red Sands, returns to Nuceria, not in Triumph but naked and forced to fight to the death before a chanting crowd - and he is losing. There was no backing out, he was trapped by his comrades, and should he abandon the fight, the world eaters may not be long for this world. The artillery begins to mount up and fire and columns of smoke can be seen in the sky, the crash of shotdown escapecraft can be heard. For anyone else, this would perhaps be a time of reflection, bargaining, and panic. But Angron’s entire life had been final stands and final moments. The Champion of death had little to contemplate about it. He whispers a prayer to the Lord of Decay, “May Saporin’s embrace find in your gardens” and charges forward. The Towering figure, steadies his blade, and prepares a strike. The rapier goes through the heart of the Primarch, but Angron continues his assault. Between the resilience of Nurgle and the Anathema, whose gifts Angron detested, the weapon did not kill him. The strange figure tried to jump back from Angron’s axe, his blade breaking inside his opponent. “Anper sove m” he cried. The strange figure begins to lose his composure and posture. Moving his knife to his main hand, the fight becomes more frantic with the speech of the figure struggling to keep the facade of haughtiness. It was compensation rather than genuine confidence. Angron could smell his fear, but Space Marines could not feel fear. “It couldn’t be possible.” Angron pressed his attack. the billowy folds of exotic linens, and white, red and colorful silks withered away with every swing. As the figure is he's hacked apart the folds expose a lightened suit of the Terminator armor. In one last gasp the exposed figure drives his knife into Angron’s neck, dropping the two of them into the floor. The fight was now brutal and dirty, just like Angron liked it. Yet the Melody of the song did not stop, only changed. The name of his Brother and the Emperor clearly being heard multiple times in the chant. The Axes chained to his wrists were buried into the terminator armor of the figure. Angron was using his gloved hands now, hacking and ripping apart the struggling figure, the rage so long suppressed from his battles he found again. Plate by plate, the armor kept falling apart the head, the golden head of the Angelic Primarch shattered and misformed revealing it to be a false head. The intricate mask of The Warmaster Sanguinius was exposed to be hollow with archaic yet delicately refined components. Like a clockwork machine composed by Perturabo. The main company of Nurgle, with the World Eaters and Plague Guard, finally reach Angron through the hordes of now enraged soldiers. As he continues to break apart the figure his World Eaters try to hold him back encouraging him to leave. Their pleas only met with primal screams of Angron’s Rage. He continues digging into the armor like a hound retrieving some buried bone. The crowd surrounding him continues to chant, rather than diminishing themselves. They shout louder, it's the, the song is reaching its crescendo. Angron’s companions form a defensive formation around him, struggling to keep the horde away. At last the final fasteners and helmet layer came loose. off. The inner helm is tossed aside only to reveal that the figure was little more than a man. His smooth features denoted some form of aristocratic life. The skull of the figure showed no implant scar common of astartes, nor was the Black Carapace on his chest. There was no demon, no astartes with their centuries of training. It was neither a noble son of Sanguinius or Gulliman. Angron beheld the man and howled like a wounded dog. The man, soft spoken, without his vox was caught in a strange ecstasy. Despite the Ancient demonic host on top of him, he continued to mutter things in his foreign tongue and offered a soft smile to Angron. After this man was beaten, beyond any sort of punishment most humans could enter, the figure looked at the primarch with sudden clarity. Locking eyes with his enemy, he spoke in perfect Nucerian. “My son,” the companions and Angron snapped to attention as the guard transitioned to that archaic language forgotten even by the new World Eaters. “A table will be set for devours, but your children will starve. Food will be presented which you will not eat. But others will eat your fill. The Crows will plague the Gardens, and feast it barren. Will you greet me when I come to make it grow?” The man expired, now golden eyes, wide in ecstasy. All the while the Pilgrims were breaking through the lines of plague guard. Their feverish shouting ”Gen’darmes Bodye Gen’darmes Li avik Sanfyelle!” This was not even a demoralizing victory to the pilgrims who are so undaunted in their fanaticism. A plague guard now buckled from the sheer volume of galvanic shells, and a Kroot, clothed in a more rustic form the same battle scheme of the others, dragged another out of the air and brought him within the Faithful’s ranks. The World Eaters dragged the catatonic Angron to the teleport site along with several others, they gather what little loot and corpses they have left, and teleport to the Terminus Est. In the loading bay of Typhus’ great vessel, Angron prepares for the return to his own ship. In the distance, The World Eaters gather what loot and trophies were gathered from the bloodbath of a raid, and bring it to the auditorium of the Death's Head. There they would be divided amongst themselves. In front of him The Warrior Drones of Saporin were observing as several much smaller worker drones inspected the pile of corpses. They were arguing with each other with their insectoid prattle while they prepare the bodies of soldiers, villagers, and handmaidens for storage and processing at The Death Conqueror. Unceremoniously in the middle of the pile, was the stripped and brutalized body of his adversary. Nothing separating him from the other mounds of flesh around him, save the contented look and golden eyes. Angron stared at him briefly before looking into the ship. His fellow World Eaters continue their own custom of presenting their trophies in piles before the Primarch. Both to receive approval and commendation, as well as allowing their leader to claim his share from amongst them. For all intents and purposes this raid should be considered a victory and Angron smiled and laughed when among his compatriots as if it was. There was nothing in this battle that should have disturbed Angron; many of his own battle brothers had died in battles before. It was not uncommon for a World Eater to fall in battle eventually. Though mighty warriors indeed, enough grunts could drown them. Death was inevitable, and what warrior could not be more proud of exchanging one for an untold thousand number of soldiers. Furthermore, the loot and bodies collected from this raid had been substantial, Ultramar had clearly become wealthy since Angron had scourged it. The corpses had been piled and filled several storage rooms that were already prepared to be sent to the Death Conqueror for processing. In addition, numerous trophies. To appease the many members of the World Eaters to mark and collect Angron usually withheld his right of first claim, and with an active gentility to his comrades, wait for others to go first to take their share. That being said, the World Eaters knew not to take the best trophies for themselves. There was usually always something that caught their eye and that caught his eye their Primarch. They suspected it would be the mask of the Fallen gend’armes or one of the mastercrafted weapons. Or perhaps the amulets with strange markings, that was being clutched by one of the many pilgrims who seemed to have come from a far off part of the galaxy. Angron claimed his share without much discretion or vigor. Unlike standard tradition, he absent mindedly grabbed a few minor things: a piece of armor, a few gold coins, a flag of the banner of the company that was slaughtered, a bionic arm, an axe, a galvanic rifle. Only the Knife made him pause. The offhand weapon of his opponent, unearthed from his hardened neck. Angron paused to inspect it. Without a doubt it was created for The Astartes, it was large enough to be a sword for many smaller individuals. Somehow, it made its way to this strange noble warrior who tested Angron in combat. The heel of the blade was marked with the symbol of The Blood Angels pressed into the knife. While alongside was an etching of a Mark II helm wrapped in the ubiquitous U of Ultramar. As expected, it was an overused and frequently seen symbol throughout this realm, but alongside it were symbols of waves and markings perhaps an identifier to the local planet from which the noblemen hailed. No doubt there was a story of how this Blood Angel knife came into the possession of a Gulliman worshipping non-astartes, but the story died with him.
He left the trophy room for the others to divide amongst themselves. Something about this battle had unnerved him, but he couldn't tell his men what it was. Or maybe it was the prophecy that he had heard in his head pondering what it meant. He was never one for prophecies, and every chaos god always had a warchest full of cryptic maxims. Even He and his gladiators would make up “Nurgle Prophecies” as a joke. However Yu’gnomia, The Golden Aurelian of Ultramar never addressed Angron personally. Nor would the cautious Lord make such a thinly veiled threat against another Chaos God. He was growing in strength, true, but a threat against The Gardens of Nurgle would be callous, and threaten the tentative peace in the warp.
Perhaps it was the fact that the thrice-cursed sons of his brother did not arrive to fight, or worse was that they did not need to. Once he, Lorgar and Typhus would tower above the common man; conquer entire worlds with a handful of Astartes. Whatever his thoughts of Typhus, Ahriman, and others, he never doubted their prowess as great warriors. Was this what bested their kingdom? The thought that Angron was now an outdated noble warrior was unsettling to say the least. When all was boarded and prepared, Agron gave his farewells to Typhus, and the other members of the Plague Guard. Plans were set for the upcoming crusade, as well as future raids. They exchanged their stale oaths to Chaos Undivided and duplicitous Blessings of Nurgle and kinship of faith. To make their departure Typhus, in a typical bout of arrogance commended Agron for his fighting prowess and skill, saying something to the effect of, “It's not often that one can take on gentd’armes and survive. But it should be expected of such a warrior is you.” Such half meant praise and condescension from a man who was substantially less proficient as Typhus was common for him. Angron had lost his stomach for a competition of boasts. He ignored the slight, thanked Typhus, and boarded the ship.
Part 3 The Brood
The Conqueror of Nucreria was unique among the ships among the rotfather, and even among the forces of chaos. While timid servants of the false emperor would find it horrific, it was clean and orderly, and lack the superficial markings of excess found among the forces of chaos. So many of his fellow traitors treated their decadent collapse as a sign of devotion to the plague bringers and sons of decay. Having recently Travelled as a guest of Lord Typhus, he couldn't help but compare the immaculately wax covered hexagonal corridors to the rancid and decrepid vessel of The Plague Guard. All of the horrid, grating sounds as if steel and ceramite itself was heaving from infection and that circuits and thrusters could vomit and wretch. The Lord Commander of the Plague Guard, had the arrogance to boast about the despicable state of his ship, as though the leaves, lichen, and mycellium of Angron's scalp was proof of a lack of favor, especially when compared to the bloated, fly-infested, and corroded flesh of Typhus. What's more, the spurned son of both of his fathers, Mortarion, and his biological father on Barbarus, seemed to imply it as proof that he and his belovedIn would be eclipsed by the rising cloud of his legion. Another time, Angron would have seen such a slight against his beloved as reason to attack the bloated failure in a fit of rage. Then again, in those days it was not hard to find reasons to do that. Now he felt mostly bemusement by the little rotting man's self suppositions. Typhus wore the ornamentation of the Rotfather's blessing but he never had more than an infantile understainding of it. But not Saporin, she devoted herself to the hidden workings of atrophy. Saporin was not some petty bloat spawn, she had ascended to become an aspect of the Rotfather's will. And that is because she, unlike Typhus, understood that Nurgle's blessing of rot and decay are because of his gift as the of life from death. She has devoted herself to The Strategem of Rot. Death and decay, like any war, required organization and the union of thousand of beings working in tandem to bring about death. And because none of his bloated pox-ridden and rust covered brothers understood this, they could never hope to replace Saporin as the most favored. That never seemed to stop them from trying.
Angron strode towards the Bridge of the Death-Conqueror amid the hexagon corridors. As crew of the ship scurried and scattered to avoid crossing his path. Those with wings flew to the side, and those without clung to one of the nearby walls as the scampered off to perform their duties for the ship. Angron did not look at the various insect-like humans but heard their pointed feet made soft noises against the wax and moss covered ship. Behind him crew scuttled behind him to clean the massive footprints his bloated armor made against the wax covered floor. One of these days, he thought to himself, he would compliment the crew on their maintenance of the ship. While the lack of any standard noises was mildly disturbing, the endless clanking of boots on metal, gases churning through pipes, and screeches of metal against metal used to drive the Primarch mad.
Angron allowed his muscle memory to guide him through the labyrinth of the ship. On occasion, trying to guess whether this was once a part of The origional conqueror, or one of the many shipt that had been salvaged and affixed to the ship. It would be impossible to know by appearance alone, as every corridor was thick with its insectoids, cavern like columns, and the occasional vines and foilage surrounding holy symbols of the plaguefather. Passing the manufactory chamber without so much of a thought about it, Angron was stopped by one of of the creatures. Instinctively the Great Warrior spun quickly and assumed an attack stance, hands gripping the axes chained by thick vines to his wrists. He softened his pose as he looked at the recoiling massive insect that was questioning its courage to tap the Primarch for attention. There were still signs of the being's once human form, in the eyes, fingers, and lip like orifice on his head. Otherwise the creature was a multi-armed being covered in long hairs and chitin. "Lord Champ..." the creature redacted its introduction out of nervousness, correcting itself, I mean, My Lor.., I mean, the Beloved of my Mist.." "Don't bother with titles, out with it!" Angron said impatiently. He stared at the being whose fully human green eyes struggled to keep contact. Angron, realizing that his intimidation would only delay this discussion longer, broke eye contact. His eyes searched the the being, who wore something that was attempting to be a human uniform, a fact that still amused Angron. It was little more than an apron covered with pockets, com-badges, and a satchel for a dataslate. Close to what could generously be called the left shoulder was an ornate symbol of nurgle inscribed within a red hand. It was carrying a data slate and its pockets were lined with samples. The Being responded, "I came here to talk about the most recent batch of collections you gathered." "What's wrong with them?" Angron demanded. The creature instinctively recoiled and was preparing to retract, but somewhere it found its spine. "We dont know, but to put it Simply...everything. The bodies will not decay, we believe that they have been cursed by the Anathema. They have resisted the blessings of The Father, and more scientific efforts to undermine this curse have produced little results. What little honey that has produced is vile and saccharine." The creature using its fifth right arm pulled a small vial from its pocket and gave it to the Primarch.
Angron accepted the vial, the creature instinctively darted his hand back, expecting Angron to assault him. Angron tried his best to smile in appreciation, but it seemed to only appear like a menacing grimace. "after all these mellenia, they still see me as a slave" He thought to himself. The Primarch held up the honey through a nearby light-source, then groaning with irritation that the light was insufficient, he scraped out the wax, moss, larval nests and fungi that had grown around the bright yellow lamp. Thousands of small creatures scattered. He held up the honey again. Not having any knowledge of either the mystical or mechanical arts he expected not to see anything. To his shock even he could tell something was wrong. The honey looked like...real honey. It was not the blood red with purple luminescent hints that the crew feasted on. It was gleaming golden yellow. He thinks he had tasted such honey, once when he was a slave on Nucreria he was "gifted" with a spoon of it as his prize for victory in the arena. But he remembered hearing somewhere that honey came from something flowers, it shouldn't come from the rancid flesh of looted corpses like the honey of The Hive. It didn't come from corpses at all, or did it? Angron wasn't sure where materia honey came from, and now that he thought about it, it wouldn't have surprised him if Nucreria made gladiators drink honey made from their fallen comrades. "Im suprised that such a thing could resist the blessings of The Plaguebringer, have you contacted the Trisagion, have their wizards offered any advice?"
It was hard to read the faces of these insects, but Angron could perceive that combination of hurt pride and revulsion. "The Word Bearers? The perfervid imbeciles who summon a patch of algae and call it a boon of The Rotfather? They would have some council for the magnificent apiaries of The Conqueror? I would not dare risk them poking around MY!" the creature corrected himself, now out of embarrassment "...queen's great halls."
Good answer, thought Angron, "I see. Will this impede the Crusade?" "Another one!" The Creature looked shocked. So soon? We still haven't replenished our numbers from the Last Crusade. Lorgar can't be serious. We aren't ready."
"How long do you need?" Angron asked The creature apparently had already reviewed the estimates on its dataslate. Eyes fixed to the screen, it began speaking just as much to itself as angron. "Between the acquirement of new candidates for transformation, replenishing honey production, inspecting the honey processing, acquiring research from at undoing the effects of this incorruption plague, at the most optimistic it will take at least 3 centuries." "You don't have three centuries." Angron replied curtly, "you have one at most." "It can't be done." "If it cant be done, Then we will fight the crusade undermanned." "What! My queen is running an intricate and sophisticated operation. We aren't a bunch of pain-addled meatheads on Nucreria chosing to die on a hilltop." Angron raised an eyebrow, the creature lowered its tone again, "With all due respect..." Angron interrupted, "With all due respect," he paused looking for a nametag somewhere- couldn't find it, "...broodkeeper, all wars are "pain-addled meatheads dying on a hilltop. Your intricate organization doesn't fight wars or win battles, it means we choose the hilltop. Do you think that white piece of cloth protects you from the realities of war? If the Night Lords come blasting through this ship that dataslate of yours will stop their rage or bolter fire" The creature froze it's green eyes grew wide in terror. Angron was surprised by its shock, It does not remember? That was only 4 crusades ago. As he stooped to pick up the Broodkeeper's dropped dataslate, Angron softened his voice as best as he could, "What is your name broodlord?"
The creature reflexively began to spill out a mess of screetches, chirps and unintelligible noises, before remembering who was speaking. "Sorry, I believe I was once called Zoay."
"Did you serve with us on The Conqueror, Zoay, or have you joined us later?" "The Conqueror?" She word was echoed with a mythic reverence. No, I was part of the Macharian raid I believe." Angron thought to himself, the Macharian raids were within the last mellenium. From what Soporin told her of the gestation, it takes at least 2 centuries for gestation, longer for advanced drones as she was. The broodkeeper had to be barely over a century, which means this was only her second crusade. "You are extraordinarily young for a broodkeeper, so the queen must clearly see promise in your skills," Either that, or her superiors selected her to report catastrophic failure to the Primarch, but Angron kept that thought to himself. The heartless machinations of superiors against their underlings never ceased to amaze him. He tried to encourage the creature.
"I understand this fear you have. You are afraid of pain, of death of failure. I used to run from it too, I hid from my fear by relishing in pain and despair, you seem to be hiding in your data. So let me give you some data: The Imperium has several fully formed legions, and half the galaxy filled with bustling planets filled with Guardsmen and Astartes in the millions. Even at twice our current strength we are undermanned, and in the time it takes us to produce two thousand more drones, will will lose about 800 drones 10 astartes. In that same time the Imperium will gain countless billions of soldiers, hundreds of astartes, and will lose nothing. They will grow stronger in the time it will take us to rebuild. You will never be able to outproduce them, you can only keep us going. So do your best and be prepared to lose it all. That was what your Queen did. In those days she was still only a captain of a single ship. We had no broodkeepers, no Anthroids, no carapace warriors. It was just us Brothers-in-arms: Soporin, me, the Gladiators, and a skeleton crew of loyal Humans, and less than half of the World Eaters. We were outnumbered then too, but despite everything we have survived, even thrived."
Angron was never very good at inspirational speeches, so maybe a bribe would be better. He knew that most of the higher level drones had a love of collecting trinkets, he reached into his pouch. "Here, perhaps its time you start having a weapon to practice with," Angron said producing a large glimmering adamantine knife. Zoay's eyes glimmered as she looked at the knife. It was a large serrated blade, almost a sword. The blade was nearly white when reflecting against the lamp above them. Upon it is bore the 8 pointed star scratching out the sword and wings of the Dark Angels." "Zoay Broodkeeper of Soporin" Trying to sound authoritative, Angron put on his best impression of Lorgar's Bombast, The Imperium has bested you this day, you have been defeated but have managed to survive. In the Arenas of Nucreria to survive the death games was what separated the fodder from the gladiator, and so as a artificer and gladiator you will now serve your queen." Not seeing any shoulders, he rubbed the flat of the blade on each side of her upper neck. "Remember you are your Queen's spawn and your Queen's soldier. It is not enough to have her mind, you must have her courage as well." As he finished saying these words he gave the knife handle first to the now beaming anthropod, who grabbed the knife with both hands.
"I am already preparing for a raid out of the Eye, I want you, and only you, to prepare a manifest of the most crucial essentials. If you or any of your scientists feel capable, they will accompany me on my next raid to one of the forgeworlrds. Perhaps some information will be there. In the meantime, have faith in Father Nurgle, be resourceful with what you have, and get me as much info on the pollutant you can, we will just have to be more picky with our corpses. Whatever this warp-magic is, Its probably expensive, not everyone will have it. Now, have you any further business with me?"
The insect with piercingly bright white human eyes shook its head, and so Angron dismissed her without a word. she walked back to her chamber ogling the knife. He continued to quickly walk up the craft to the Bridge.
Part 3 The Audience
Finally reaching the bridge he entered into a vast auditorium surrounded by stalactites, columns, and walls of massive hexagonal combs. The individual combs were too small and numerous to see, but Angron knew that residing in each comb were individual cells in which the tasks that took the Imperium dozens of systems to replicate served the War machine of their Captain in a single ship. Cells where newly acquired candidates were transformed through the blessings of Nurgle and the geneseed of Angron into Hive soldiers for Saporin or new Astartes for Angron. Others were nests where the bodies were arranged to host the larvae of new worker drones. Other cells were little agri worlds where living organisms from across the galaxy were bred for livestock, and others where this rotting livestock mixed with the rancid corpses of a thousand plundered worlds, providing the blood red honey that fed the ship’s untold millions of crew. The cavernous hall reverberated with the echo of hundreds of workers performing their needed functions for the ship, whether it be research, repairs, or flight computations. The Buzzing of armies of winged crew-members flew from wax stalactite to wax stalactite overseeing the maintenance of the ship.
In the center of this immense chasm was an obelisk-like structure with an organic bridge leading to it. Now a pillar, this massive monument in the center was once the command bridge of The Conqueror, placed at the center of this massive hive. The gravity generators of the room had been arranged so that those lacking flight could walk along the walls of the hull. Somewhere, under Angron's feet beneath miles of wax, hives, compost, and reconstituted metal lied the ruined stained glass windows and gargoyles of an Imperium that both were once a part of, and both had swore to fight. Surrounding the bulkhead was the remains of the hull of The Conqueror itself. A bare porous husk that had been eaten through and built upon to create the entire complex. Angron walked on the bridge surrounded by an endless chasm as deep as the Champion was once long till he reached the captain's throne at the top of this center monument. As to be expected it was empty. "Saporin" the primarch shouted, "I demand an audience!" Despite the vastness of the chamber, his voice made no echo, muffled by the constant low buzzing of activity that permeated the complex.
From below the bowels of the ship, she arose – Saporin – Mistress of the World Eaters and Queen of The Conqueror of Death. The 8 foot tall figure surrounded by 6 harpoonlike pincers stood in mid-air supported by four transparent wings that beat with a rhythmic hum and a mighty gust of wind. Upon her carapace armor was a red handprint with the eight-pointed star placed inside. "An audience you have, Angron." She responded. "My children were just speaking of you, hoping to know when you would supply them with a bounty of sweet nectar of fallen loyalists."
Angron replied, "Yes, one of your drones just told me,” he said gesturing vaguely behind him. “They’ll have to wait, you seem to have a problem in manufacturing." Walking towards her, Saporin’s proud smile began to fade and head cocked to the side in a confused expression. Angron held up the glistening, flawless, golden ichor in front of Saporin. She stared at it confoundedly, then with one of her larger pincer, dropping it in front of her hand to study it herself. "Come now, Angron, you’ve had 10,000 years to learn practical jokes, now is not the time to develop a sense of humor," saying as she opened the vial and placed a glimmering droplet on her finger. "I do not know what trophy you brought back from your travels, but this is..." Placing a drop to her lips her lampblack eyes widened with shock, almost bulging out of her face. Her lungs inhaled a scream and waves of pain and horror rippled across her normally stoic face.
TBW: the old conqueror and the birth of Saporin
Part 4 The Birth
Angron had no idea what was in the vial, but whatever it was must have been powerful as Saporin lost control of her wings and flung herself onto the pillar. Angron raced to her side. Seizing her before she fell off the rail less cavern and, feet firmly planted in the wax, pulled her close till her head was pressed against his right side, absorbing the momentum of plunge. Previously convulsing, the pincers on her back dug into Angron, wrapping around him as though a spider with its prey. Were it any other man, those pincers would have left him a writhing mass, but the body of a primarch was extraordinarily resilient, and pain was once Angron’s only companion. His body would heal, and Angron accepted the embrace of both his lover and his once fellow traveller without flinching. The noise of the entire hive came to a halt, and an oppressive silence filled the air.
Using Angron's shoulders as a support she quickly picked herself up, and clutched the vial. Her eyes were no longer human, and yet Angron could read the despair and shock written upon them. Her face, normally a deep violet was a sickly mauve, making her eyes seem somewhat darker, and the normally obscured scar on her left side looked as though it was a giant gash. Her eyes seemed to be staring at Angron’s arms, as she returned to her senses The color in her face returned and pushing away her lover, called to her drones through a few symbols, and barks into her combadge, the hive was again a buzz with activity. Four winged soldiers also flew behind Angron . "We must speak in private," she said to Angron, trying to find her voice. Having been accustomed to this, Angron did not resist as the four guards carried the massive being in power armor. The followed the Queen into the center of the wax covered pillar to a small cavern a few miles down. Angron was briefly disoriented by the gravity and light change, as they went from the bright glow of the throne room to the lightless metal interior perpendicular to the hive. The Humanoid wasp soldiers dropped Angron on the floor and departed without saying a word.
Angron's Lymphic Node activated and he was able to see the dark room as clear as if it was day. Despite the layers of sediment and vegetation growing around the defaced statues and hollow glass he recognized the room. It was the ancient commander's bridge where the creature once known as Lotarra Sarin, flag officer of the Imperial Navy, commanded The Conqueror. This section had been a dead husk for thousands of years. Like a whale carcass, all manner of life was built upon its ruined dead husk. There had been no light for millennia, but neither needed the light to see. Saporin turned to Angron still clutching the vial. "How did this happen?" Angron, slowly moving closer to Saporin relayed what the broodkeeper told him, "Seems the current collection of soldiers were somehow warded from Father's blessing.” Angron wondered if he should be ashamed about his ignorance of the inner workings of the hive, but the body language of Saporin told him this was severe. “I’ll admit I don’t understand your process, but something about the bodies not decaying." An foreign strand of panic entered her voice. “By the Dark Gods, everything could be corrupted. If this spreads…” Saporin reached once again to her comm, but Angron gently reached for her hand to push it away. “Your broodkeepers have the situation under control, there is no need to act on impulse.” She searched his face for some sort of condescension or stoic composure. There was none, only a superhuman calm, as his calm brown eyes searched her face for signs of stress. His calm unflinching expression was infectious; She spoke again.
"No ward has ever been strong enough to poison an entire production line, and you only gathered less than a million. We will have to drain the entire run, and rely on reserves, but that will mean our newest spawns will have to be gutted, this could corrupt everything." The queen stared at her old captains chair, now a fraction of her height, and absently walked toward it as she tried to collect her next move. Angron moved closer to her: "Lortarra. what was in the vial?"
"It was Poisoned, clean somehow.” Her face searched for an answer in the surrounding dark vessel. Angron suggested perhaps it was the work of his still loyalist brothers. Magnus, the great throne bound sorcerer could perhaps devise a protection for soldiers. Or perhaps even his fallen brother, Gulliman. Though still only a nascent god of the warp, The Three Headed Eagle’s power continues to accumulate as the untold billions of warriors from Ultramar and beyond die with his name on their lips. “It didn't feel like whatever Aurelian or Magnus would concoct. It felt, familiar, older..." She refused to allow that thought to dwell, attempting to shudder a shadow from the back of her mind, her massive black eyes turned to a defaced statue. "It wasn’t a ward, I could feel the gifts of Nurgle dying within me."
Then turning to the Champion, her eyes and lips ablaze with ideas and solutions. " You are still human, maybe you could try to cut a deal with that idiot Golden brother of yours for a ward protection? The Eldar and the Imperium are always looking for proxies for their cold war. We could help out so long as it doesn't interfere with chaos…or maybe not… Perhaps we can go further, we have spent too long in Segmentum obscura anyways - Wards against our facilities wouldn't have spread that far. Ork honey is never as satisfying but we could make do, maybe feast on the tau and tyranids as well. Or maybe go farther. Our allegiance is only to The Rotfather. It will only be a matter of time before The Imperium takes Cadia eventually anyways, might as well get it over with and benefit as well."
“I do not think that is an option,” Angron interrupted her, "Lorgar instructed me to prepare for the next Black Crusade." She scoffed, but her scoff turned to a look of incredulity. The demon princes were not silent, she had heard rumors of Lorgar's plans, she just refused to believe he would be brash enough to carry it out. She searched Angron for signs of just, there were none. "I see," Her face hardened turning away from Angron, then proclaiming in a mocking bravado. "Very well then. Forgive a mere demon for her misgivings, Lord of The Twelfth Legion. As always our forces are at your disposal oh Angron Nucrerian! Mighty Lord of The World Eaters and Favored Champion of Our Lord, Nurgle, The Lord of Decay.” Lotarra spoke in a parody of the overwrought and ritualistic manner of a lesser demon. As though Angron was but a psyker who managed to fumble his way towards summoning a neverborn. Angron, the former slave, and eternal iconoclast, despised titles and formality. To be treated like some bloviating minor official or self-important cultist would sting Angron more than any insult could. “I am a vessel to serve the will of Those granted Rotfather's boon. My ships are at your beckon and my armies shall march with yours with the Great Heresiarch Lorgar Urizen to Glorious victory over the Fool-Emperor. Now unless you have further business, I must attend to my own affairs."
Angron grabbed one of her arms and pulled the distraught Hive Queen towards him. The vial fell out of her hands and hit the floor making a small chime and rolled down the floor. Saporin gave a defeated cry in horror as the aura of the vial seemed to infect the ancient ship. Small strands of gold began and harmonics pierced the comforting darkness, as if long dormant machine spirits were rousing themselves to the call of their lord. There was no longer any pretense of control, and from the depths of her being she cried out to her champion. “It’s him, Angron...oh by the dark gods, its HIM. He's awake, and he will come for us! He knows where we are, what am I to do, we cant face him. Oh Rotfather, oh ancient lord, merciful isha, great nurgle, against the anathema protect us...” The panicked cries of his love, broke him from his curious stare of the vial. Angron clutched her tighter, as though she would melt. Then reaching towards her chest he ripped the combadge off of her and crushed it in his grip. Saporin was a meticulous commander, and there were no doubt sensors and monitors affixed to the badge. Her drones did not need to see their Queen like this. It wasn't becoming, and it was the only time he felt he was no longer talking to the Woman he knew all those centuries ago.
Placing her gently on the throne, he walked quickly over to the vial and placed it in his pouch. Who knows what the honey could have done if it actually touched the ship. The little Broodkeeper’s diligence and engineering skill may have saved the hive from complete destruction. Perhaps he should pay more respect to Saporin’s non-military drones. He thought to himself, as he returned to Saporin’s side. Kneeling before the figure enthroned in past torments and adorned by tears. "How long have we done this?” He tried to reassure her. “After all we have seen and done in the Rotfather's name. The worlds we conquered, the battles we lost. Both of us were there when Kharn fell weren't we? We were helpless to save him as the Black Ravens consumed his very essence, and yet you did not shed a single tear. But now, our food production is down and are weeping over faulty logistics like your name is Perturabo." Angron heard a stifled laugh, and offered a silent prayer of gratitude to the forces that save him from his servitude to rage. The demonette placed her hands on the back of his head where the butcher's nails once stood. His long-healed scalp reacted to the red and black hairs of her elongated fingers.
Angron was not left scarred or distorted like so many servants of chaos, physically he was almost the exact same as when he served on board her ship, back when she was little more than a fleet officer for a demogogue. But the feel was different, her hands felt a face that was once pulsating with a stimulated rage, and spasming nerves as his whole body once convulsed in eternal agony from the butchers nails. Now there was only the cold firmness of the vines that grew from the back of his scalp, contrasted with the steady warmth of his skin. There were no traces of pretension or condescension to him. Why was he not afraid? She wondered quietly. The Anathema’s had done far more to Angron than he had to her. Long ago the anathema had taken her life. She never had to live in the perpetual misery that was Angron’s service to The Emperor of Mankind. His supposed “father” deprived him of companionship, and friendship, of even basic dignity and hope. Angron was beaten and whipped into a rabid beast. A chained animal that could only howl at its master and mutilate those around him. And now the rebellious lord of the twelfth would not be able to look forward to that. They would not kill him, for if they did his misery would end, and his soul would soar to the warp into Gardens of Nurgle and her embrace. The Anathema and those obedient spawn that delude themselves as the Emperor’s “Sons” have no doubt tallied every sin angron committed against him. They would have him repay his pound of flesh with an interest of blood: for the destruction of Ultramar, for Isstivan, for the death of Gulliman, for every raid and child and corpse brought for transformation, for every victorious battle Angron led against, and for every one of their Astartes he brought to her hive to be consumed by her hungry children. They would make him pay for every drop, and yet there was no terror in his eyes.
Standing up, Angron grabbed her by the waist, and together they walked down a familiar path of the old ship. The storm of terror had begun to subside. The great queen of the Hive continued to speak, her head pressed against her love's shoulder. "It's been Millenia since we joined Lorgar's crusade, and since that day we have seen nothing but failures, hardship, defeat. We were so full of hope then, and yes, I did not weep for Kharn, but I deceived myself that his death was recompense for betraying us, for rejecting Nurgle's embrace for continued embrace of The Anathema.” Saporin looked glanced at The World Eater’s pouch, the golden glow of the honey eminating from the pouch. Angron sealed the pouch, stifling the light, and returned her side, his hand resting below her wings in what was once her naval. She continued, “But in that Honey I tasted revelation. I felt the Emperor's growing shadow reaching into the Warp, and he is coming for all of us. The kept hope that no matter what happens, under Father Nurgle we would be under free of his reach, but now that is gone. The Emperors justice looms once again in my ship, and I am no longer Soporin, Arch-Daemonette of Nurgle, I am Disgraced officer Sorrin, killed by the Emperor in my own ship.” They passed from the captain’s bridge to a large butressed corridor, where steel and ceremite was made to look like stone, a cathedral dedicated to a man who insistend their were no gods. His statues and symbols between the arches defaced and desecrated with the unholy symbols of Nurgle, Soporin, and the Eight Pointed Star of Chaos undivided. A pyrrhic act that now seemed to mock her for her former self-assurance.
“How much more can we endure, beloved? We are attacked on all sides and even if we are claw our way, battered and broken, to one victory our enemies shake off their defeat. First it was the Imperium, then it was Malal, and now even the Eldar are awakening to reclaim their Croneworlds? Each Black Crusade carry less troops as our enemies enthusiasm grows. It is no secret in the warp, that Khorne and Mortarion have abandoned Lorgar. I know you care not for the politics of demons, but there are many in the gardens who feel we should do the same. What sort of victory are we hoping to wage if the Blood God has better things to do?”
Angron responded here. “Lorgar is my brother,” “You have many of those,” Saporin retorted, “all your damned “brothers” is what dragged the galaxy into this mess.” “Yes, but only Lorgar is worthy to be called such, he saved us, do not forget he brought you to the Plague God, advocated to him on our behalf.”
“Would you doom Nurgle and I for the sake of Lorgar? What will we do when the Eldar and their new god finally come for Isha?
"We will fight them. Just as we would if we abandoned Lorgar, except we would be alone." "What happens then?" As she asked this Angron and Lotarra passed tarnished silver doors to the ancient mmeeting hall of The Conqueror. Above them a root and lichen covered dome that once depicted a grandiose mosaic of The Emperor of Mankind uniting Terra. The Grandiose overbearing centerpiece of a grandiose overbearing lord, but that had long since ceased to be the most important aspect of the room. Angron pointed to an inconspicuous spot on the wall. "Do you remember what happened here? Lortara. This was the day you saved my life. Up until this day all i had wanted. All i had lived for, was to die with my comrades. I was made for war, by the Slave Masters of Nucreria, by the Nails and by the False-Emperor so many called fools called "father," and so every day I awaited my faith.” It had been long since she had been here, but it was not unvisited. Around this one spot were markings and sacred symbols of the rotfather. Sacred graffitti of pious drones paying their respects to the cradle of their creator. The couple inched towards a small spot near the wall a small patch of grass and nightblossoms emerged from a small spot of ceremite and tile. Illuminated by the purposefully placed candles and bioluminescent mushrooms. “But you saw something else. You died here. I saw The Emperor throw your body against this pillar because you dared to find not an asset but a brother in arms. You knew that those detestable nails has The day you stood up to The Emperor, medical reports in hand. You were stood up to a god while still only flesh and blood. I know, because i saw it was spilled over bowels of your ship. And as I held your broken body I roared in grief and anguish praying that I could die with you. But you gave me so much more. All my life I expected nothing, hoping only for a death among friends. But thanks to Father Nurgle, thanks to your influence, I could live amongst friends. It is fate that we die, but it is fortune we die twice.”
Saporin turned away from him, looking towards the mound, allowing herself to lean on the Primarch. The breath of life, one that she had not taken for 10,000 years vibrated the small hairs on her neck. “We will die, beloved, but we will die together. Because that is all we have ever deserved. Let’s not pretend we were ever promised more than a grisly end. So let them come. Let the Emperor and his slaves march into the Eye of Terror, let the Eldar scheme emerge from the webway, let the Necrons awaken and the Tyrannids feed, let my brother gather the ghosts of humanity against the gates of The Old Golds, and the Ravens of Malice consume our remains. In the future there will be only inescapable darkness and endless war, but we are warriors. Endless war was our masters ever promised us. We will fight for every day that Father Nurgle has granted us this, and should we fall, then we will fall as one, and I will die by your side and die happier than I had any right to be." The daemonette was silent, holding her lord, as he held his champion. They stood for an eternity in silent vigil over the space that birthed them both, holding requiem for what they once were.
Your descriptions are great throughout. Not so detailed that I get bored, but enough to paint a picture of a universe entirely alien (pun indended) to our own. For a couple of them, you jump from a conversation to a piece of unrelated setting which can be a little distracting, especially when trying to figure out the characters at the same time, but every description adds something to the reader's picture of the world, so I wouldn't cut them entirely.
This story could also use some copy editing for spelling and grammar. It's not a big deal, but it can distract from the story. I'm happy to copy edit as I read if you want me to, but I didn't want to take the liberty without asking first.
What's Angron's story? You allude to a lot and I think you have in mind a backstory for him, but I feel like I'm only getting hints. He seems to be a heavily modified human and serves some greater power, through I'm not sure whether it's The Nurgle, his brother Lorgar, or something else. And I got that he was a gladiator of a sort at some point, but I'm not sure how he got to where and what he is now.
Part 1 was hard to follow. The lack of spacing in the conversations makes it difficult to tell which character is talking and the shear number of proper nouns makes it difficult to understand who's who. Maybe adding some internal monologue about a couple of the new names that are brought up to give a little background into them and help the reader remember them. Or add a little more description of the places or characters to help the reader remember them and understand their significance. I know you're introducing a lot here and it's difficult to cover so much, but I think fleshing it out a little more and maybe cutting a few mentions of places (if they won't come up later) might make it easier to follow.
Ultimately, I don't think Part 1 fits very well or is necessary for the rest of the story. If the purpose is to convey the urgency of another crusade, it could be done with a shorter conversation that explores the relationship between Lorgar and Angron instead of mentioning so many other "people" and places. Perturabo and Typhus are introduced and described pretty well, but barely referenced in the rest of the story. In contrast, I don't understand much about Soporin from part 1 (beyond some of her physical features) and she turns out to be one of the main characters of the story. If there are other stories that tie in Perturabo and Typhus that you expect your readers to read before this, it may make more sense to them, but I don't think you need all of the background if you're not going to use the characters later. That said, I would be happy to read more about either Perturabo or Typhus because both sound like interesting characters with their own interesting quirks.
These issues are all resolved in part 2. The conversation is compelling, easy to follow, and builds the world along with providing a sense of scale for the crusades (over centuries and millennia) and background for Angron, Soporin and the Broodkeeper. The fact that you brought the Broodkeeper from fear to inspiration in a believable way, while leveraging the bribe to enhance the effect shows how effectively the dialogue is written and paired with your picture of the race's vices.
Part 3- Is there a difference between Saporin and Soporin or is it just a misspelling of her name? What about Lotarra (or Lotara or Lortara), is that her title? If it's a title and you want to use them interchangeably, using them together a couple times early on would clear up the confusion.
When the guards lift Angron and take him to speak in private, use that opportunity to describe the guards, his surroundings, and how he feels about flying/being carried. This is a great point where dialogue is impossible, but it's a great chance to paint a picture of what's passing him by. Currently, it just seems like an abrupt scene change.
I like how much the revalation of the Golden Honey shakes Saporin and how you describe that so well. She suddenly becomes so distraught and you talk about how unusual that is for her, despite their millennia of experience together.
The description of their "death and rebirth" leaves me with so many more questions than answers. Maybe this is the way you intended it, but I think this would be a great place to add a flash back that would be more descriptive than the dialogue allows. Good ending!