chapter 1

The Imperial Hive World of Pyros hung in the void like a diseased star. Even from far away one could see the brown stains of millennia of atmospheric pollution and worse inflicted upon the planet by an ever hungry Imperium. But for those who came with other, darker thoughts, something more stood out.

Pyros had minimal orbital defenses.

It seemed strange for those who knew of how many worlds defended themselves. But for those who knew why, it was just another sign of weakness.

Pyros sat far from the frontlines of any major attack, either from the Eye of Terror where most of the Lost and the Damned resided, or the Ruinstorm where the Arch Traitor's sons made their home.

Nor was it close to any major xenos infestations. For all of this, the world had all but been forgotten by the Imperium.

It was a weakness those with the power would exploit effortlessly. And even now, two such beings made their course to the unknowing planet.

Lazarus, chaos lord of the Blood Drinkers warband of the IXth Legion, looked on at the oncoming planet full of prey with relish. It was not just the thought of fresh blood that excited him, but also the chance to prove his worth after recent losses.

His warband had once been one of the more numerous of the Blood Angels. After the Legion had fallen apart in the aftermath of the Legion Wars, the ship (which had once been one of the finest of the IXth Legion's fleet in the years before the revelation on Signus Prime) had struck out to make its own mark on the galaxy and the Imperium. For more than a millennium they had slacked their thirst on the worlds surrounding the Eye of Terror.

Finally growing bored of them and the constant attacks from the other Traitor Legions (the vast majority of which still remembered how the Blood Angels had abandoned them so quickly during the Siege and were among the first to flee Terra after Guiliman's fall. On top of the disgust engendered following the Dropsite Massacre), they had made their way out into the wider galaxy, staying in the empty spaces of the Gothic Sector for several centuries before leaving for the northern Ultima Segmentum.

This put them into contention with Ultramarines warbands that had somehow escaped past the Iron Cage around the Ruinstorm. Not that Lazarus actually cared. He had no love lost for the thrice damned XIIIth Legion. In fact, at every chance he could, he took pains to make sure whatever plots they had came to nothing in the end.

But his last attack on an Imperial world had been bloodily repulsed by a combined force of IIIrd and VIIIth Legion warriors. The losses among the slaves mattered not all to him. They could always be replaced with more.

What made it worse was the loss of so many of what fellow Legionaries he had brow beat into his service. It had been a long time since the warband had returned to any of the Legion's gene-labs for fresh replacements and he was down to just five Legionaries plus several hundred mortal slaves.

There were already whispers that one among the warband intended to usurp him if given the chance. It was one Lazarus had no intention of ever giving to anyone. Ever. Any who thought otherwise were deluded fools. He had a special place for those who had tried to usurp his position in the past.

Their desiccated bodies made for a great adornment in his chambers. And were an easy way to keep any folhardy mortal slave from sneeking a peek when they had no right to.

His lips curled in a sneer at the thought. It almost made him feel sorry for the poor fools. Almost.

But that was a concern for later. Even now the cults Lazarus had been seeding on Pyros for years would be beginning the first strikes that would allow his force to land and slake their thirst. His bound pyskers were already sending a wave of terror and adoration ahead of the ship.

Not that they truly needed it. His ship, the Warspite Class battlebarge Bloodcaller, had been designed for a planetary invasion. But it made the taste of blood as he drained it from the unworthy taste all the sweeter for it.

His grand reveries of the feast to come were interrupted as he heard someone approach his command throne. Looking down with distaste he saw that it was one of the mortal slaves that ran one function or another of the bridge. Lazarus had never paid attention.

The mortal stopped at the foot of the command throne, throwing himself into a bow, not daring to look at his master until bidden. Lazarus let him quiver for a moment before saying "Rise."

The mortal did as he was bid. He kept his gaze away from his master for too long less he loose himself to his Glamour. Far too many had made that mistake and had paid for it. Lord Lazarus had a habit of drinking dry anyone who looked at him too long. Unless he told them too of course. Of course this only mattered on board the ship.

"We are almost in range my lord." He murmured.

Servo motors whined as Lazarus stood. His armor was the older MkIII armor with his helmet scavenged from the MkIV pattern taken during a battle with a Dark Angels Legion warband four centuries earlier as time in realspace was measured.

If anyone looked at Lazarus and lived to tell about it, they would have seen what could have passed for the perfect ideal for an Astartes. A beautiful face unmarred by scars or blemishes, blond hair swept back in a way that screamed megalomania and his eyes alight with a fiery intensity.

His armor carried the same ideal. The IXth Legion's symbol of a red drop of blood was carried on his left shoulder while the right carried the sigil of Slaanesh the Dark Prince. Woven into every facet were the suggestive symbols of the Prince of Pleasure, ones that if one looked too long would drive them insane. At his left hip hung a powerblade the color of spilled blood and on his right sat a holstered inferno pistol

"Not fast enough. Burn the engines at full power. No, past that! I thirst." Lazarus replied the Thirst burning his throat.

The mortal flinched. "My, my lord? We can't-"

He never finished the sentence for Lazarus had suddenly lunged forward and grabbed him with a massive fist. His eyes filled with horror as his mouth opened and huge fangs glistened in it, before darkness claimed him.

Lazarus enjoyed the rush as the blood was drained from the hapless puppet he held. He disdained wearing his helmet when on board, the more to enjoy the crew's rapture when they looked at him. His omophagea picked up bits and pieces of the crewman's life as it faded away. He had worked his way up from a lowly position from the gun decks by dint of his cruelty and willingness to murder those in a position he craved. He had finally made his way up to the bridge and as lead message runner. Not that Lazarus particularly cared anyway.

Making sure he drained every last drop, he discarded the sack of flesh without a second thought.

"Burn the engines full tilt. I don't care how you do it. Get me to that world now!"

On the far side of Pyros, another ship bore down on the planet with the same idea of slaughter, but came from a very different background.

The Maelstrom Class grand cruiser Harvester of Skulls had once been a proud example of her class, one that had conquered worlds unnumbered in the heyday of the Great Crusade ten thousand years before.

Now it prowled those same space lanes for a very different purpose, one forged in the fires of the first Blood Crusade. The ship, whose first name was long forgotten, had been newly given to the VIIth Legion before the massacre at Isstvan III. It had been one of the first ships of the first four Traitor Legions to arrive at Isstvan V at the height of the Dropsite Massacre.

Thought caught out like many were when the Terminus Est detonated its warp core, it had proven itself time and time again during the Blood Crusade that followed as the Imperial Fists sealed their pact with Khorne, so much so that Rogal Dorn himself had commended them.

A fact that Demetrius Valor was always ready to tell anyone foolish enough to stand in his way.

Seated on the command throne overlooking the bridge, the lord of the Skull Hunters warband of the VIIth Legion cut an imposing figure to those few brave or foolish enough to look at him.

His Cataphractii pattern terminator armor, normally a spotless yellow, now had a long splash of red across the chest pauldron, carried over from the warband's most recent battle. Valor had long ago made it clear to the few Dark Mechanicum adepts in his warband that any blood earned in battle against a worthy foe was to be left alone until the next battle against another worthy opponent.

Lord Valor hoped that day was long in coming. The previous kill had been particularly sweet.

His left shoulder pad carried the Legion's badge of an upward pointing fist. Like all in the Legion, he had repainted his left gauntlet red. Valor saw it as one more affront to the False Emperor. On his right shoulder he carried the sigil of the Blood God. His weapon of choice, a huge chainaxe named Gore Render, sat mag-locked to his right leg. But his most favored possession was not even on the bridge.

Valor had made it his mission to collect a skull from every Legion ever created ten millennia before, Traitor or Loyalist. So far he had taken one each from the Thousand Sons, Salamanders, Raven Guard, White Scars, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors and Ultramarines Legions.

The Raven Guard in particular had been sweet. Though young by the standards of the Long War, Valor already had a deep disgust for the degenerates of the XIXth Legion. No true warrior would ever lower themselves to that level. Even his hatred of the Iron Warriors Legion didn't run as deep. He would never lower himself to taking the head of one of their so called 'Spawn Marines.'

The leader of that warband had fought as well as any, he gave him that. But he still fell, as all did in time. Like their entire Legion would in time.

His most recent 'acquisition' (an Ultramarines lord's MkIV helmet) was even now impaled on a spike on his trophy rack on his armor's back. It was particularly sweet since Valor could now claim he possessed every 'mark' of power armor helmet in his collection. While he kept the helmet, the rest of the armor (thoroughly 'cleansed' of its past association) he gave to his most favored warriors. And if there were extra helmets he didn't need, he gave those away as well.

Let it never be said that Demitrius Valor was not considerate in that regard. It was a sure fire wa to keep his warriors loyal and disuade any thoughts of usurpotion from their minds.

He also made sure to take any pattern of terminator armor he could get his hands on. His own suit was mostly the Cataphractii pattern but several pieces were taken from the Tartaros and even the Indomitus patterns.

But that was beside the point. Pyros had become a target of opportunity he would not pass up. Not only would it be a chance to claim more skulls for his patron, but it would be a perfect chance to blood the newest members of the Bloodborne, the army of mortal followers his warband had always used.

It was fortunate that the first master of the warband millennia before had abandoned the Eye of Terror after the Breaking. Finding it too chaotic for his tastes, he had struck out into the wider galaxy. He had cut a bloody path following rumors of another haven for the Lost and the Damned.

The Screaming Vortex, an area just as unpredictable and chaotic as the Eye of Terror. While the worlds within the vortex were fewer, there was plenty of space for those who had the will and might to expand. While every one of the Traitor Legions had a warband in the vortex, none of them were any serious power.

Valor had plans to change that. He already had one of the largest fortresses in the Ragged Helix and had access to some of the most violent of the Gloaming Worlds for fresh recruits to his mortal army, and the best of those he had transformed into Legionaries.

His chainaxe had been a gift from the Exospectre of the Hollows, even if he had found the whole episode unsettling.

Servo motors whined as he turned, hearing one of the bridge crew approach the command throne. Bowing deeply, the mortal waited at the base for his master to give him permission to rise and speak.

"Rise." Valor said after a moment, enjoying watching the mortal squirm, afraid his lord would end his life on a whim. He had done it before, either when the crewman brought him bad news, and sometimes just because he felt like it.

"My lord. We will be in drop range in thirty minutes." He paused a moment before continuing. "Long range comms is picking up a lot of chatter on the planetary vox."

Valor laughed a deep and disturbing sound. "It looks like someone has started the fun without us." He said rising from his seat.

"Very well." He continued unlocking his helmet from its position on his left leg and locking it in place with a hiss before taking a ship wide hailer from the mortal's outstretched hand.

"All Fists to their drop pods. All Bloordborne to their drop ships. For Dorn!"

"Blood for the Primarch!"

AN: And off on another story for this universe. Night Of The Wolf is on hiatus at the moment due to a major case of writter's block. But should be vack on track soon.

Now, on to here. The Imperial Fists and Blood Angels I think need more love in this universe. Hence them coming together here. Plus the fact that it also works as a larger bit of the war between Khorne and Slaneesh.

All for now. See you next chapter.