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Honour And Treachery

GM Background Stories.

Honour And Treachery

Postby Claw » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:27 am

112 Years Ago (Sidereal)

The cracked surface of the lava field held its undulating shape only for a short time. In a mere handful of hours it would change, reshaped by the bubbling liquid rock which rolled like a red ocean beneath it. Even the rugged clifftop they were stood upon would eventually vanish, cast down by fire and brimstone into the burning lake which lay several hundred meters below. Sulphurous mist swirls about hellish landscape, dense enough to be lethal to ordinary men, but the towering figures gathered here are no mere men. They are Adeptus Astartes.

There are four Angels of Death on the barren plain of this nameless world, three standing like heroic statues come to life and the forth on his armoured knees, his head bowed and his hands bound before him with silver chains. Three of the Space Marines – two of those standing and the one kneeling before them – wear pale blue power armour adorned with pure white robes and the symbols of their Librarius heritage. The other Astartes, who stands a short distance away with his hands resting upon the hilt of a double-height power sword which has been thrust into the ashen ground, wears scarlet power armour of the finest and most intricate design.

One of the Librarians raises his voice, addressing the kneeling Marine with a rumbling voice hardened by the long centuries of his life, “Tiberius Longinus. You stand charged with heresy and sedition. As is our tradition, you may speak now in your defence.”

Tiberius Longinus raises his head. His features are unremarkable save for the pallid colour of his skin, but his black eyes burn with fire of a thousand suns. Such is the defiance in his gaze that the speaker, Chief Librarian Meidius, flexes his armoured fingers around the hilt of the force sword which is still sheathed at his waist.

“You would dismiss the Old Ways as heresy simply because you are too weak to embrace such power,” Tiberius says with a feral grin which displays his viciously pointed teeth, “And as for sedition, I embrace the accusation, for our beloved Chapter Master Argo Valius is a traitor to the Crimson Scythes who spits upon our traditions.”

“Is there no limit to your diabolical treachery? That would slander the very man who has offered you the chance to recant your sins and die an honourable death…” The scarlet armoured Marine says, his voice calm but carrying a weight even greater than that of Meidius.

Tiberius spits a harsh laugh towards the warrior, “And who are you to speak thus, venerable Novedium? Had you a shred of the honour you claim to prize so highly, you would be Argo rather than weakling, but you are such a coward that you have refused it time and again.”

Novedium simply shakes his head. He is battered and scarred from more battles than he can recall, and although his age does not show, he is truly ancient by the standards of even Adeptus Astartes. There is some truth in Tiberius’ words, that Novedium has refused to become Chapter Master several times, but those words contain an equal lack of wisdom. Novedium knows his limits, something Tiberius is apparently incapable of understanding.

“Tiberius… you were the greatest of us,” The other Librarian says softly, “You could have risen far and achieved much. Why… why must you do this, Brother? Even now we are trying to save you. Don’t you see that?”

“It’s because I’ve seen the truth, Adivus,” Tiberius says solemnly, turning his gaze towards the young Librarian standing beside Meidius, “And I know better than any man, Brother, that you cannot comprehend that truth. You were a fool as a novice and you stand as a fool now, unable to see that everything you do, everything you believe, is worthless before the infinite madness of this universe.”

Adivus looks away from Tiberius, unable to meet his friend’s crazed eyes any longer. They had been closer than anyone, having battled together as raw novices for decades before ascended to full status as Brothers. Tiberius had possessed such power, such genius… even the force staff Adivus now holds in his hands had been reforged by Tiberius into a weapon beyond comparison. That someone so great could fall so low is indeed beyond Adivus’ comprehension.

“There is no saving your honour, then,” Meidius declares sadly, “Your name will removed from the annals of the Chapter and you will be forgotten, Tiberius Longinus. For the Emperor and Chapter, I will now carry out the final sanction.”

Meidius draws his force sword and channels his power through the black blade, setting it alight with purple tinged Warp-flame. He steps forward, towards the defiant prisoner, and raises his weapon to deliver an executioner’s strike… but Tiberius replies to this gesture with a wicked grin.

Power explodes from Tiberius in a rolling wave of force, throwing Meidius from his feet despite his being prepared for some type resistance. The silver chains about Tiberius’ wrists shatter, falling like crumbling dry leaves to the ground, and he surges to feet in an instant.

Adivus, who had turned his eyes away for only a moment, is stunned when his staff is suddenly torn from his hands. It spins through the air before slamming into Tiberius’ raised gauntlet, and with surprising agility he spins it around to meet the sudden swing of Novedium’s sword, the venerable warrior having catapulted across the eight or nine meter gap between them in an instant.

“You cannot kill me!” Tiberius roars as black flames explode from his staff, sending Novedium staggering back on the defensive, “I, Tiberius Longinus, have looked in the heart of Chaos and denied even it’s lure. I am without equal! There is no power greater than mine!”

Adivus focuses his mental energies, throwing a surging wall of telekinetic force towards his former friend, but that force is met by an equal force thrown back towards him and, with a dull rumble like distant thunder, both powers explosively counter each other out. Adivus and Novedium are thrown from their feet in a shower of ash and dust, but Tiberius stands unmoving, his staff driven into the ground like a solid pillar.

“Oh Adivus, you fool. You asked me why, because you never realised. I have always been this way, but to achieve this power I had to hide my ambitions for a long time. Where better to lurk than in the shadows of a man so pathetically noble and righteous as yourself?” Tiberius taunts with a malicious laugh, his pale face alight with a twisted smile.

Those words should not have cut Adivus as deeply as they did, but the pain he feels has he struggles back to his feet is more real than any wound he has ever taken. He sought to blame Tiberius for his outrageous behaviour… but what if Adivus had acted sooner to save him? How could he not have realised?

Clean white lightning suddenly flashes through the air, erupting from Meidius’ raised hand, but it surges into the staff Tiberius raises to defend himself. With a scornful look, Tiberius raises his other hand and unleashes a hissing mass of black lightning in response. The Chief Librarian tries to protect himself, but where the black lightning strikes his armour it darkens, twisting and deforming as though it were made from wet clay. Howling in agony, Meidius slumps to his knees.

But in the instant of that exchange, Novedium had jumped to his feet and charges in again, slashing his crackling two-handing power sword towards Tiberius’ throat. The traitor dances backwards to avoid the attack, but too slow, and a black line is drawn across his neck while the lightning wreathed blade scorches his face. Roaring, Tiberius brings his staff around, throwing out a wild curtain of midnight-hued fire. Novedium doesn’t retreat, stepping into the flames heroically and slashing Tiberius across the chest, parting power armour and flesh with one blow.

With a savage yell Tiberius thrusts one hand forward, scooping Novedium from the ground and holding him in mid-air with raw telekinetic force. The finely engraved scarlet armour around the veteran Marine’s chest begins to buckle, as through it is being crushed by a giant, invisible hand, and within moments it is twisted beyond recognition. Novedium doesn’t cry out even as blood begins to trickle from his eyes and mouth, he simply stares defiantly, his hand tightly gripping his blood stained sword.

Adivus tries to throw another wave of force towards Tiberius, but finds that he is being pinned in place by another immensely powerful telekinetic field. His bones creek beneath such force, unable to offer the least resistance. It’s all he can do to raise his gaze towards his former friend, meeting Tiberius’ wild, bloodshot eyes. He is unrecognisable now, his armour stained red by his own blood, his face twisted my rage, madness and pain.

Despite the situation, Adivus can only look upon Tiberius with pity.

“Don’t… you… dare…” Tiberius spits angrily towards him, blood flowing freely from his severed neck, “I am… I am… without equal!”

Suddenly, Meidius lurches into view, clutching his battered, twisted body with one hand as he charges towards Tiberius with a roar. Tiberius, badly wounded and occupied by maintaining two telekinetic fields, has no way to stop the Chief Librarian. Meidius barrels into Tiberius like a run-away Rhino, taking them both over the edge of the cliff.

Released from the pinning hold, Adivus staggers towards the cliff and looks over. More than five hundred meters below is an ocean of lava, savage and fiery red. Neither Tiberius or Meidius are anywhere to be seen.

Adivus turns sharply when he hears a faint voice behind him, “He was… he had…”

He turns to see Novedium laying broken in a pool of his own blood, his body crushed like a discarded recaf can, smashed beyond even the abilities of an Astartes to endure. Adivus is stunned by the man’s endurance; he had thought him dead and can hardly believe that, in such a state, he can still speak.

“Brother… lay still. The Apothecaries will be here soon.” Adivus says, stumbling towards Novedium and falling to his knees beside him.

Novedium shakes his head, his bloodied lips moving, “He had… nothing… he was… empty… it must have… have been… torture…”

Adivus can offer no reply. Looking into Tiberius’ eyes in that last moment, he had seen the same thing. Tiberius had nothing. Honour, loyalty, tradition, duty and even friendship… he had thrown them all away to grasp at power, and once he had found power, he had realised that he stood alone in the darkness, without purpose or meaning. It was truly pitiable.

“Don’t forget… your honour… even if… if… everything else… is taken away… don’t… forget…” Novedium says, his voice drifting away.

“I won’t, Brother,” Adivus replies resolutely, placing his hand on Novedium’s chest, “I swear it.”
Claw
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