Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Treachery of the Legio VIII

“Praetor Tomas, there are men here from the borderlands that urgently wish to speak with you. The colony at Vilneus has been laid to waste, sometime in the night! One of them swears it was the work of the legions - had a look at them himself, he says!” Getting no response, Nicodemus licked his lips and collected himself. “They await you in the Epistolary, Praetor.” He retreated backwards through the reliquarium door with a deep bow, closing it behind him. The Praetor did not look after his assistant, but remained apparently motionless on his meditational slip. A closer look might have revealed that the aging magistrate was shaking in his robes. He was, in fact, terrified.

Skar! Praetor Tomas cursed quietly in the old tongue. The Astartes commander had assured him not three days ago that he would have the rest of the month to deliver the regular tithes. Now it appeared their time was up, and they would all likely be dead come next nightfall.

The audacity of it all! Why, there were none so loyal in this sector as the Priory Scarlet! Had this very mission not reclaimed scores of human worlds in the past 300 years? In their glorious history, had they not overthrown vast hordes of defiant militiamen, scourged forgotten tribes of mutants, and pushed back the cursed xenos time and time again? Why, the Emperor himself had recognized the Priory specially, granting them the blessed armor that had so protected their faithful in the countless battles of their crusade. And now one of his trusted legions was attacking them over what amounted to nothing more than a slightly late harvest?

Bah! The outriders of the Priory Scarlet had been wielding boltgun and flame in their righteous quests long before these arrogant goliaths, these overgrown psychopaths, started roaming the stars, dispensing their cruel and twisted sense of justice with no fear of retribution. If he and his fellow crusaders were destined to die, it would be in glorious battle! They would raise such a din as to wake the sleeping Emperor, perhaps make him realize the imminent danger inherent in loosing such powerful madmen upon his kingdom. True, the angels of death had earned fearsome reputations as merciless deathbringers, but the Praetor’s own ranks were filled with fearless devotees, lunatic martyrs, and arcane machines of death that had successfully purged three death cults in the past month alone! Well, perhaps not so much purged as absorbed, but it was all really a matter of perspective in the end, was it not? The most dire fanatics were easily brought from one cause over to another, and he would surely need their special talents in the hours to come if they were to have any chance of surviving.

He stood up with a speed belying his age, gathered his robes, and strode to the door. There were many preparations to be made, and time was of the essence – they would soon have guests to entertain!

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