Core of Brutality
Keitzel was a hub, installed for necessity to anticipate immigrant movement from the only starport to the south and east of Kronus, by the whims of a governor long gone who desired an even spread of populace to avoid unsightly hives. Keitzel would have been just as any other town, if it hadn't been for the blind artist Sophia, a young woman graced perhaps by the Emperor with a talent for showing what others saw from their memories. At the cost of her own sight, she lived and produced works from others.
Three years later, a fascinating philosophical and artistic scene grew before they were informed that the Adeptus Arbite had abducted Sophia the night before. When Imperial communication ceased, Keitzel was the germ that laid the groundwork for the Tau conquest.
Not that one could know, or care; the site had suffered four times by now, erasing what little luxury and culture had boiled there. The Tau swept through, picking the academics who knew their language and the creative talent that was open to producing propaganda. A roving band of Imperial devotees rioted, ruining the town and killing many, while the Tau stood by, avoiding blood on their hands. For a year, the town gasped, now poor and working, they were chained to the land, even as Orks came. They breezed through here, not a month ago. Bored, they looted, fought, made a slight pretense at establishing government (It mostly consisted of the Orks dressing in old Imperial robes, grabbing the mallets, and whacking each other as they giggled and read High Gothic, before a couple of nobs stomped them), then moved on.
Then, came the Word Bearers. Those most faithful.
Faith. Absolute belief in something beyond flesh, blood, and steel, it has served to inspire great deeds among men, depthless horror and infinite charity in frustratingly equal measure. It can terrify and it can inspire, it can be treasured as a spark of nobility against the nihilism of man; or abhorred, rightly, as a fever upon the mind.
The woman who devotes her life to righting the wrong of ill timed fate, giving up the food for her belly and the time for her breath to serve hand and foot those without hands or feet; she has faith.
Just as so the Word Bearers, bore faith.
With reverence, they gathered the town, their cultists doing the foot work, raving and chanting like rivers gone wild, their robes wet and dragging with red paint. At least it was hoped that it was paint.
The townsfolk had been reduced to barely a hundred. This, stated the Dark Apostle, was a clear sign of their failure. Of their unbeloved state, their, and a tear quivered at the end of the preacher's eye at this, their solitude from those that could HELP.
The Chaos Gods. He spoke on, of their infinite love and mercy and compassion, for theirs WAS love and mercy and compassion by definition. They NEEDED people. They could only be HAPPIER with more people. Why then, believe the lies of the Imperium, that which would shackle them to one faith. A faith, that was dead, unyielding, telling them what was and wasn't to be done. The Chaos Gods did no such thing. They listened to people.
Some hope stirred in the hearts of the townsfolk, hearing the preacher's words. Perhaps, this was true. Perhaps, this was the better way, they seemed happy.
Then, the man announced matter-of-factly that it was too bad that they hadn't come to Chaos earlier, and they would form a fine foundation for the new shrine.
Skulls torn for Khorne. Eyes cut open for Slaanesh. Rotted hearts for Nurgle. Brains dissected for Tzeentch.
The crowd struggled; it was unfortunate for the preacher, that they would be so blind and foolish. The dark gods cater to the needs of every man, in their bid to sup upon souls and emotions. These ones had not participated, had not worked hard enough to find, and bid for Chaos affection and protection. Yet they begged for mercy?
Welfare ruined man already.
Bones for Khorne. Skin for Slaanesh. Pus for Nurgle. Nerves for Tzeentch.
The construction would take some time, and the cultists were only so glad to do it. The Chaos Gods were much like a business after all; do work, and you benefit from it. The Dark Apostle gifted them with a smile, and moved on with his main force, leaving behind a troop of Khornate berserkers, mainly out of distaste for their inability to properly kill the sacrifices.
Perfectly good shrine materials, torn apart by chain axe.
Maintaining a berserker, lost to the blood madness that Khorne inspires is no mean feat. When not in battle, they display all the signs of madmen, lethargic, save for occasional spasms, shrieking at the top of their lungs, bashing their heads with the hafts of their chain axes. The reason that the berserker is outfitted with armor (And rarely by his own leave) is to attempt to keep them from killing each other, themselves, or tearing a hole open in whatever is transporting them at the moment. Most of the time, the locks in the joints are successful. Most of the time.
They stood, alone, chained in rooms, glaring out at concrete and rounded Tau windowless architecture. Waiting. They did not move. Their hearts beat a sacred song, awaiting. Preparing.
The Chosen of the cultists, Ensire the Liar (self-named, of course), had no idea that the three berserkers in his care were not bashing themselves against the walls, and he would not have cared had he known. He would have been glad.
Ensire was a fool.
The Chosen, high on what little love that he interpreted and felt from Chaos Undivided strutted, posturing in his power armor, shouting in the main town square, for the benefits of the gods that he believed heard and watched his every step.
"MEN! Beloved, and worshiping followers of the True Faith!" He leaned back, smiling, and breathing in the air, his eyes closed, as he worked desperately hard to keep from gagging at the smell of a hundred dead surrounding him, their corpses being butchered for shrine parts, "Ensure, that for the glory of each of the gods, that each corner is EQUAL! If you do NOT do this, I shall KILL you, for daring to taint any of the Dark Powers with BLASPHORITY!" Ensire did not really know what the word he had used was, but it sounded like something Eliphas would say.
The cultists gibbered among themselves, moving the pieces over to form a circle. A black basalt pillar already filled the town square, names scratched off by ork choppa and dakka, serving well for the purposes of the Word Bearer's small shrine.
"The Slaaneshi first," Ensire waved his chainsword toward the shrine, waggling it like some pompous school teacher, "I owe a debt to her, for forgiving me."
The Word Bearers may have respect for every god, but that does not put them above fighting, and purging a native Slaaneshi cult over a quibble of dogma. Ensire, for his part had grown to regret his actions, as he bit his lip, the fire lancing up and down his pubic hairs again. He hoped that enough of this, and Slaanesh would hopefully forgive him.
A whistling, shrieking from above, far off, but laced with menace. Ensire glanced up. A meteorite was falling in the distance. A line of white hot molten rock fell from it as he watched it drop to the horizon. Strange.
Ensire turned back to work on his investment in the afterlife.
Half a dozen cracks turned Ensire once more, having just started bellowing orders at his cultists. He frowned, as he saw the meteorite juddering, shaking, flashing with the cracks and bangs. He growled.
Crack, crack, bang. Crack. The meteorite flipped, for a moment, revealing a dark box. A small noise brought Ensire's attention to his shoulder pauldron.
A wicked, jagged burnt and half melted Imperial Skull quivered, half buried in the ceramite. Tink. A gout of wall, scratched and torn, by a near identical piece.
"Wreckage," spat Ensire.
He turned again.
Three Khornate Berserkers nodded together, simultaneously. The warp promised war.
A flash of light on the horizon. A distant animal's scream. A plume of smoke. A shockwave. Ensire ignored it all, bellowing and constructing his shrine.
Three chainaxes revved together, and their hilts hit the floor together. Rev. Thump. Rev. Thump.
Another shriek, this time of steel. Ensire backed handed the nearest cultist who had looked from his grisly work. There was an edge of panic to his voice now.
Fear. That is the first objective.
Nine millimeters of diphosphor chlorite ran through veins hard as redwood bark.
The measurements on the assassin's body were variously liters, pounds, grams, meters, moles, fingers, and other, further vague measurements the contributors to the pharmacological nightmare felt like adding in at the time. It is doubtful if the thing could be counted as among the living when the combat drugs do not run through it.
Addiction would not cut the description for it. That would insinuate that it was ever anything other than a psychochemical maelstrom held by reinforced bone and hardened flesh.
Three meters in the hardened ground, it isn't awake yet. No. The combat drugs were not yet running through it. The amphetamine dose that would drive a man's heart so hard that it would probably tear loose; no, no this was his wake up pill.
It wakes up under three meters of ground, aching. Directives flash into its head, onerous. It isn't getting oxygen, but its not that concerned yet. It listens to buzz and radio chatter, and eyes satellite reports. It had fallen far from its Primary. A moment of frustration, at an incomplete objective. It can still accomplish a secondary though.
The town of Keitzel flares in its skull. Within Chaos territory.
The shrine was set. Embalming fluid was poured across the offerings for Tzeentch and Slaanesh to prevent them from being prematurely claimed for Nurgle. The problem with Nurgle was, that he got most everything eventually. Ensire grinned and nodded at the cultists, feeling a sense of contentment and security.
The meteorite meant nothing. The shrine was displayed, and cemented the love of Chaos in him. It was perhaps, a warning, to speed it up?
"My brothers," said Ensire, relief visible across his voice, "This...this was a good work. Blessings be upon the Warp," he leaned in, "And now we can get to the fun part."
The cultists roared their appreciation, waving their crude weapons in the air, dashing off to do what any right minded horde of villainous men, high on freedom and monstrosity would do in the face of a loss of supervision.
Ensire was following the crowd, smiling from ear to ear, following his men along. When he saw the Eversor between the gates.
There was no recognition of what he was specifically. The Eversor are the most renowned of the secret order, but still, secrets are secret.
But. In service to the dark lords that let you live and die on their whims, there is a recognition, of potential violence.
The skull glanced up, the body following along behind, dragging, slowly, casually. Eyes focused. The adrenaline was low yet.
He would savor this.
The cultists stopped, glancing at one another, as the skinny thing stumbled forward. To be sure, it had a large pistol, and a sizable claw on one hand, and a leering skull of a mask.
But it just looked weak. Stumbling drunkenly, swaying and moving its head from side to side, as if unaware of the cultists. One sniggered, and approached the thing, as it moved forward.
"What, RELIC, are you," Ensire immediately sensed the posturing of the cultist, which drew everyone's attention. That, and the subject tensing up, freezing, "To sway in here," the cultist drew his blade, placing it under the assassin's chin, drawing his face up, "Do you seek FORGIVENESS? Were you beset upon by Orks, and in desperation came to us? You've guaranteed yourself a death, whether or not it is quick, well, that depends on the crowd then, doesn't it?" The cultist turned to the others, smiling, confident. His smile faded as he saw Ensire hurriedly duck into the hotel.
The others, for their part, were uncertain whether or not to laugh. Especially as noise crackled from the thing's face.
"Secondary: Assure self-survival to complete objective. Tertiary: Punish sin," The eyes clicked red, focusing on the cultist, "I judge you guilty of Contempt of the Emperor."
The blade flicked back, cutting open the jugular. Blood sprayed. The cultist inhaled to laugh, before the Eversor stood. The blood sprayed across the street, splattering wetly across the houses, as the Eversor cocked his head.
Underneath a plasteel shield, hypodermic needles worked like pistons, pumping and replacing fluids, setting the entire circulatory system to a boil, sealing the wound shut with a fast clotting agent.
The cultists lips parted, for an infinitesimal microsecond, before a hand reached in, tearing his tonsils, and grabbed, ripping out the cultist's jaw.
"Thank you, my Emperor," whispered the Eversor, as it rammed the jaw through the cultist's eye, "For leaving me work to do."
Ensire ran through the hotel, heading for the rooms of the berserkers, as he heard the shrieks of his cultists outside. He ran up the stairs, sparing a glance over his shoulder to see the Eversor, sprinting at the confused crowd of thirty, firing with impunity, as his clawed hand rose high.
Ensire had to admit he watched with morbid amusement, as he saw the thing move with inhuman speed and grace, ducking, spearing, and disemboweling the cultists. Khorne would be proud.
The amusement faded quickly, when he saw the Eversor impale one of the cultists, then use the poor bastard as a vault to get closer to him, amid sprays of crimson and red stabs of poorly aimed laspistols.
Ensire ran down the hall, the cracking noise of the wood underneath him startling him with each step.
The door flew apart in splinters as Ensire bashed through.
The berserker was standing at the window, the broken chains still wrapped tightly around his wrists, the end links embedded in shattered blocks of concrete.
He was staring out the window at the Eversor, in the posture of an admirer. The chainaxe revved with a sound like an anticipatory growl.
Two doors down, the Khornate cohort could not maintain himself any longer, and leapt in a shower of glass and stone at the Eversor in the street below. The others soon followed.
Shrieking, red armor clad, they charged, pounding the dirt roads underneath them, shards of glass still falling to the ground where they landed.
Fire blossomed across the pistol's barrel, as two shots roared out. The first berserker's chestpiece cratered, as he stopped, like a dog reaching the end of his leash, halted for a moment, just long enough for the second bolt to blow his hand off.
The second charged forward, howling incoherently for blood, firing his bolt pistol, yet missing with each frenetic shot. The Eversor spasmed, dancing like an epileptic towards his enemy, the pistol holstered, a buzzing power sword replacing it.
Dust rose and whirled around the two combatants, their entire bodies extensions of their weapons of choice, two anchors caught in the drift and tug of a blue buzz and a gray red whir. The third berserker pounced forward with an ecstatic yell, swinging his axe, in time for the Eversor to impale his combatant on his claws. The shrieking teeth on the axeblade bit air, as the Eversor leapt forward, the squealing of ceramite on steel his accompaniment as he pushed forward, forcing the Khornate into a stumble.
Glass unshattered is rare upon Kronus these days. For his part, the Eversor contributed to the dearth of burnt sand.
Subdermal bionics, overstrained musculature and psychotic bloodlust drove the Khornate through the one of the few windows left in the town. The Eversor curled up against the berserker as he rolled through the remnants of a table. The Eversor breathed, then pushed away from the tonne of steel and frothing rage, dragging out viscera through the twisted hole.
The Eversor rose slowly, staring at his opponent. On his side, choking, gasping in blood, the chainaxe revving uselessly, the line of intestine from his belly married to the neurogauntlet. The assassin gave it a tug, watching his victim twitch. A spike in codeine. It twisted the loop of fleshy organ around its little finger, relaxing as drugs pumped through, responding to the juices leeched from the claws.
Bolt pistol chatter from outside reminded the assassin he was not alone. The bolt round that ricocheted off his helmet gave an unpleasant jolt in amphetamine, crashing the momentary opiate rush.
The Eversor rolled with the kinetic motion, backflipping through the ruined restaurant, dragging out his pistol. The Khornate berserker, for his part, rammed through the door, sending it squealing and spinning off its hinges.
A good run of Dirobicscovin evened the Eversor out a little.
"For any man to intimate that the Dark Ages of Technology, those ages that the Emperor of Mankind rescued us from, have any worth at all, is a man I can immediately suspect of gross heresy, and immoral character..."
Ensire stood, rapt, watching at the window. One of the Khornate berserkers was spasming, waving his weapon in the air, with one hand missing, and a chunk blown through his chest. The combat had moved into a restaurant, known as "Gue'La Cuisine", a place that had closed down and been host and victim to violence again and again.
Unfurling as it flew, a wad of intestine flew out and splattered in the dusty street. Ensire swallowed what drops of moisture remained in his dry mouth, and turned on his heel. The Chaos gods had abandoned him.
After everything he had done for them, he thought darkly, as he stepped down the concrete steps.
Inside the restaurant, the Eversor had fled up the rickety steps to the the second floor. The Khornate had attempted to follow him, but with his armor-
Wading through the flinders and splinters that used to be stairs, the berserker roared in frustration, righting himself, when he felt a pinprick, at the base of his neck. The warrior opened his mouth to speak. He could not. His throat.
His throat was sealing shut, even as lines of fire marched away and down his sides.
The Khornate was curling up from the solid cocktail of poisons that had been introduced to its spine, when the Eversor stepped on its head, reaching down to grab a stiffening arm, and pulled, until a satisfactory snap and a final jolt of life convinced the assassin that his opponent had died.
"...For they are, if not evil, willfully blind, and in the area which only scholars can attain; that of simultaneously too much and too little education..."
The chainsword in Ensire's hands reassured him as he sprinted through Keitzel. The problem with Tau architecture is that it didn't have any blocks, per se, more avenues and curves between the domes. No alleyways.
Ensire knew alleyways. Back when he was, "Just that lying prick," in Ironworks Bay, along with all the other scum and shitholes who the Tau didn't touch on the eastern half of the continent. Before the dreams came, the ones with the demons telling him he was damned for helping the Tau-lovers kill those Slaaneshi when they freaked out at the Imperial presence.
He ran for the Western edge of town, where it got Imperial again, where the buildings had angles, and could give cover.
Darkness pooled around the ovoid architecture, as the Liar ran out of light.
The Eversor are not quiet. They are not subtle scalpels, incisions to be cleaned and healed after the infection has been removed.
They are Armageddon, barely bound and restrained into human limbs, personally packaged for the few that have gained the Imperium's ire. Pride should be taken for those that earn an Eversor. For the brief moments of survival that they hold, before pain and oblivion washes over them.
The Liar stumbles in the dark now, finding his fingers running along familiar imperial crenelation. Arches, whorls, buttresses, all the good, human things.
But it is dark out. No one to light the gas torches. The Liar swears, as he stumbles over a heap of rock, or a body that had never been cleaned up, falling with a clang.
His bolter falls. It discharges a shot. For a second, there is light.
A white skull shines for a nanosecond. Ensire rises, his ceramite boots frustrating him, scrabbling and kicking forward back onto the dirt street.
The sound of four claws scratching along familiar crenelations, arches, whorls, buttresses, and all that other good imperial architecture follows him.
Light sparks. The black figure follows, crowned by a grinning silver skull. The blackness returns. The claws dig deep again, and the light flows, bountiful again. Sparks and dust cascade off of the long clawed fingers, as the thing leans forward. The piston syringes pump, a thousand maddening compounds, hormones and glands emptying, flowing, pumping through the blood, as the thing leans forward, loping, in its hand a power sword, close to the ground, like some predator.
The Liar falls back, on his back. He was just some human who embraced a cast-off gift of a god. He wasn't trained for a fight against an opponent. He could barely wear the powered armor. It wasn't fair.
Three meters. The jeweled eyes glint in their sockets. Two meters. A grinding, straining noise, and Ensire can't help but notice the teeth on the mask split apart, and snap together in tiny, almost immeasurably small amounts. One meter. The claws leave the walls. The light is doused. Save for the eyes.
He sees not the initial stab, under his chin, running straight to his cerebellum. He doesn't feel anything after that, as the neurogauntlet tears, running through flesh, sinus, skull, tongue, esophagus, and temple, before pulling free.
Nothing left to kill.
The Eversor leans back, feeling the opiates pump and pulse through him, followed by the ritalite. The syringes slow, withdrawing themselves. The breeze blows. The heretic beneath chokes and sputters.
For a moment, the Eversor is between combat high, and seeking low. The twilight of murder. It likes these moments. They are rare, for the weapon, after discharge, to cool, still gun warm. Objective. The last traces of the drugs fade, and the thing slackens, relaxes. Recommence Primary.
"...learned enough to know what black miracles occurred in those dark times, yet not learned enough to open their eyes. To any man, Mechanicus, Ecclesiarch, or Inquisitor who states that the highest thing is to recover technology, I point them to what technology we have. Foremost, to those weaponized men that the High Lords of Terra must keep on the shortest leash. Look upon them, and tell me that this is good. Nay, but I am glad of their existence, that they may cleanse and torment those demons and devils that assault our Holy Empire, for they our own, daemons, monstrosities, and walking atrocities. The Vindicare, who only participates in society through the scope of his rifle, the Culexus, born without a soul, the Callidus, bereft of even an honest face, and the Eversor. Incapable of doing anything but kill.
I am thankful for these, our weapons. Yet I still pray for the swift removal and defeat of our enemies, that they may be removed, before they inevitably ply their lives the only way they know how."
-Arch Deacon of Kronus, Father Martel
Objective recommenced. Primary objective.
Vindicare. Eldar. Kill. The Eversor stood, empty, hungry, the hypodermics keeping themselves out of reach. 'Till another fight.
The dirt stuck to the blood on his boots, as it walked to the space port, empty and dead again.