Tuesday, 7 June 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 4

A new story in this series, this is called 'The Red Angel' and it is written by Owen Chow (aka ORKY ARD BOYZ from the TGC forum). This one deals right with the progenitor himself, and the separation of the Legion from the Emperor. I think you will agree it makes exciting reading! So, without further ado...

The Red Angel

By Owen Chow (aka Orky Ard Boyz)

ARIGGATA. ITS SKIES were dusty red, streaked black by aircraft contrails and smudged with smoke. Surrounding the basalt citadel had once been a calm and featureless plain, a sea of dirt. Now it boiled, soil erupting as munitions pounded around the fortress walls. Grit showered the warriors waiting in their trenches, pattering like rain from blue and white armour.
Hronde’s helmet autosenses couldn’t entirely filter out the thunder of bombardment. He focused on his battle brothers instead. They were tensed, unreadable behind their war helms. The vox buzzed with static and Horkal’s growl broke the silence.
‘How much longer?’
Hronde replied: ‘As long as their defences stand.’ He noticed Horkal was pacing. ‘You are of the Legiones Astartes. Control yourself,” he snapped.
The bigger man grunted. ‘Nnngh. The primarch doesn’t order us to control ourselves.’
The primarch. Hronde ‘s heart had leapt like all of his brothers’ when the Emperor, beloved by all, announced their lord returned. The legion was whole. Complete.
The doubts began when the killings started. Their... commander was a beast. He was not like the charismatic Horus or the stoic Guilliman, each a living embodiment of the Imperium; gene-crafted to be vivid and majestic leaders, scholars and warriors. Angron was different. Angron had returned damaged, broken somehow. Howling and screaming, lashing out at all who came close. Livid yellow eyes glaring in the darkness, lips peeled over his teeth, cursing the Emperor.
Horkal’s voice broke his reverie. ‘I can’t stand this bastard silence,’ he snarled before wrenching his helmet clear, revelling in the devastation. Hronde did the same and volume assaulted his ears, drowning out thought with the continuous boom of detonations. The ground shook. Blurred by the heat haze, the fortress shimmered like a mirage. Everywhere there was the bitter tang of melted rock and smoke.
Then his squad dropped to their knees, dipping their heads, still as statues. Hronde turned and came face to face with a demigod.
Angron wore a breastplate of brazen scales upon which the chained Imperial Aquila clanked as he moved. Dragging at his shoulders, a chainmail cape rippled in the firelight. Hronde could bear no more than a glimpse. Mind emptied, he felt light, almost giddy. The strength drained from his limbs. His knees tried to bend as if of their own volition. The scene seemed so right, to be the natural order of things: the king standing majestically and his devoted subjects bent at the knee in adoration.
There was only one problem: he could not kneel. He had forgotten how.
A voice like the rumbling of an earthquake spoke its first words but Hronde could not decipher them. Then he realised that the primarch was laughing.
‘You do not bow, little brother.’
It was true. He wondered why. Hronde suddenly noticed the massive chainaxe gripped in the primarch’s fists. Shark-like eyes rooted him to the spot, and knew the brutal intellect behind them knew only one reaction to uncertainty. To weakness.
Even knowing this he could not move.
‘Why?’ Angron demanded. The chainaxe gunned into life, and Hronde was so close that he could feel whip of each jagged tooth slicing the air. The shark eyes narrowed. Lips drew back over teeth.
Hronde stood very still, raising his head to look his liege-lord in the eyes, fists clenched. He measured the tone of his voice. ‘Sire, would you have your warriors grovel at your feet? Saluting their own deaths, begging for their lives?’
The demigod stared back with his predatory glare. ‘Salute in the hot dust... hnnn... standing proud, ready to die.’ Angron’s features twisted into what could have been a smile. His barked with his harsh De’shean accent, savaging the Imperium’s Low Gothic with deliberate pleasure. ‘Like my brothers and sisters, brave Cragore facing down the beasts, never smiling. Grim Cragore.’ His eyes began to wander, and his voice lost its edge, his words trailing to nothing. Then his attention snapped back to Hronde. ‘So what are you, weakling?’
‘Your warri-‘
‘Another warrior! Another grave-grubber with scholar oaths, playing at valour.’
Horkal began to speak from where he knelt nearby, to defend Hronde. Angron ignored him, eyes fixed upon the still-standing legionnaire in front of him.
Hronde’s hearts were pounding, the stink of hyper-adrenaline filling his nostrils. ‘I serve my liege and by extension, the Emperor, belov-‘
‘The Emperor and his weakling crusade,’ Angron blurted. ‘No valour, no! Butchering paperskins with his fire-from-above.’ A particularly loud explosion punctuated his words.
Hronde’s mind raced. His will fought against his instinct. Years of training yearned to correct these heretical words, but the very thought of Angron locked the snarl behind his teeth and loosened his fists. He could never raise a hand against his primarch any more than he could against himself. It was said the Legiones Astartes were gene-coded with loyalty to their blood sires; he wondered if the primarchs were ingrained with the same level of loyalty to the Emperor. Could they be fallible?
Abruptly the bombardment ceased, leaving an empty silence. The primarch whirled.
‘World Eaters!’ Angron roared the name like a curse. ‘Another world, another twist of the triumph rope. For glory, little brothers!’ He was answered by a cacophony of voices as his warriors surged from the trenches. One war cry was notable by its absence, or maybe it didn’t matter anymore. For the Emperor...
Hronde drew his blade and was lost among the legion’s charge. Uneasy thoughts nagged at the edges of his mind as Angron threw himself into the battle without any thought of danger. It was all he lived for. There was a screaming reactor in place of his heart that boiled white hot rage into his fists and gritted his teeth in a mockery of courage. But what was death when there was nothing left to live for? Brooding alone, the primarch knew no true equal. Even his brother demigods judged him, as he shut himself away between wars. He was damaged. Broken. Fallible.
Everything depended upon Angron. The Legion, their loyalty, everything. Charging forward, roaring his nonsensical invective, every inch a warrior and defining the very values of selfless sacrifice and defiance, Angron was the most majestic sight he had ever seen. The monster and the hero. The future was filled with boundless possibilities while he stood at their head.
As the legion charged, the ruddy dust upon their armour plate caught the light. Hronde wondered, was it an omen of things to come? The Legion was coloured red.
World Eater red.

1 comment:

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