The twin tallied city of Stormhiem stood like a bastion of manufacturing and machinery in the realms of Chamon and Ghur. A sprawling metropolis not quite the size of Hammerhal, but still large enough to house millions of humans, Alves and Duradin. Chimneys rose from the city polluting the sky with smoke as the Ironweald arsenal factories worked day and night making the weapons and armour to retake the mortal realms. From knifes to repeater handguns, from cannons to steam tanks, the city was like massive forge of weapons waiting to be used.
Along the steel walls of the city stood freeguilder soldiers of all ranks from handgunners to cannoneers. Dressed in the red and yellow heraldry of the city they stood guard watching, waiting for whatever foe would try and get in. Along the walls also stood the Stormcast Eternals of the Knights of Dawn Stormhost. They stood almost taller than most men. Stoic and guarded, these Stormcast like to do things their own way, much like the city itself.
Walking along the walls was a female Stormcast Eternal. Her armour was more ornate then the rest of the host. She was Jayne Starforged, a Lady Celestant of the knights commanding the Star Called Warrior chamber. So, named due to Jayne's ability to read the stars with accuracy that was almost unheard of. But it was clear she was not like the others of the Stormhoast. Many of her bothers remembered, at least to some degree, of what they were.
Titles like knight, samurai, hwarang and more echoed in their memories. But she could remember two titles, N7 and Spectre. Those words had no meaning to her or anyone else, but she felt them mean something important. But what was the question. Her braided red hair flowed behind her like the mane of a lion giving her a more noble look. A proud soldier, she wanted to know what her past was.
Devotion to Sigmar among the Stormcast was absolute, but she was different somehow. It wasn't obvious, but something told her to temper her faith and devotion as if it wasn't going to work. Instead she put her trust in her brothers instead and relied on them. It saved her more times than she could count. It was like as if she had done it before, relied on others before. But her mind kept drawing blanks when she tried to remember.
She had only been reforged twice, not enough to lose all of her memories. Maybe some but not all. Something about that just felt wrong. It was as if she was pulled from another world and Sigmar decided to block memories for a reason. If that was the case then she would go to Sigmaron and shake the answers out of him. God or not, she would have answers one way or another.
As she walked along the battlements a page came running up to her.
"Lady-Celestant Starforged," he called making Jayne stop and turn to him.
The boy stopped and bent over trying to get his breath back before looking up at her. "Lord-Commander Beastheart wishes to talk to you," he said.
"What about?" she asked.
"A Freeguild regiment is planning to go and stop an Orruk band close to Stormhiem Gurran," he said.
The Stormcast just nodded and thanked the young man before walking off to the Stromhold.
Lord-Commander Kaira Beastheart moved around her Chambers practicing moves with a wooden stick rather than her starstrike glaive. Her armour was to one side and all she wore was a loincloth and torso wrap. Her dark skin glowed in the light of the torches as she moved with ease. Unlike others of her Stormhost, she was a warrior Princess of a forgotten kingdom. Rebellious and headstrong, she remembered that she left her kingdom to learn the different ways of war.
She learned many before she had to return back home and fight back against the fell forces of Chaos. Her memory of her past life ends here, she didn't remember if she died or was summoned before she became Stormcast. All she had now was her memories and her Stormhost, to her that's all that mattered now.
The doors to her chamber opened and Jayne entered. Kaira paid her no attention as she focused on the combat styles.
"Jayne, it's good you see you pulled away from your patrol," she said as she swung the staff around her head.
"Someone has to make sure that the freeguilders aren't slouching," she replied amusingly.
"Indeed," Kaira said as she stood up straight with the staff next to her and bowed at an invisible opponent before turning to look at her fellow Stormcast. "One of the celestial wizards sent me this," she said walking over to a bookshelf and pulling a scroll off the shelf.
Walking over to Jayne she handed her the scroll. Taking it Jayne opened it and began to read. But it was all in riddles that she couldn't make out until her eyes focused on one sentence. 'Shepard of the stars', her eyes then looked up to the Lord Commander with a mixture of surprise and suspect.
"I guessed that would be your reaction. After all, you can only remember you name," she said with little amusement.
"It's said that Sigmar plucked me from the stars, and you are assuming that this is true right?" Jayne asked inquisitively.
"Yes. The Knights of Dawn don't fully remember everything but we remember more than most," Kaira said matter-of-factly. "You being here with no memory of who you are is an oddity within this Stormhost. Most Stormcast remember something, but all you remember is your name. Jayne Shepard, that as two other words. Now this even among Stromcast is abnormal to say the last. With this little riddle and the timing of the Freeguild march cannot be a coincidence,"
"So, you are basing this on very little information?"
"Ghal maraz was found with very little information, as has a lot of things in the Mortal Realms," Kaira countered making Jayne sigh.
"You know how much trust I put into those things,"
The Lord-Commander just nodded. "I know, however what's the harm if going? I've seen you pace around your chambers, and on the wall. You have been locked in this city ever since the battle at Iron Peaks, you need to get out and do a bit of fighting to get the blood pumping again. Besides, the Freeguilders asked for the Star Called for this one,"
Jayne nodded. The battle at Iron Peaks had been a hard battle against Korne, but that was a few months ago. Maybe it was time to get back out onto the field. She looked to the Lord-Commander and nodded.
"Ok I'll go, but don't expect that this will help," she said handing back the scroll.
The Stormhiem 9th Outrider Rangers was around 1000 men but only 100 was called for the scouting mission. It was primarily a ranged cavalry regiment used for scouting and fast attacks. But this time it was paired with infantry elements from the 4th light infantry and the 5th handgunners. All of which totalled to around 350 soldiers and four steam tanks. The plan is to split the main force into two groups of 177 soldiers with Stormcast support. Normally the Daughters of Kaine would join in but they had other matters to attend to other than scouting for Orruks.
The Freeguilders prepared themselves by sharpening their weapons and loading their guns. Outriders and pistoliers cared for their mounts as they waited for the signal to move. The steam tanks however would take a little bit longer due to the complex mechanical insides of it. Unlike its equine counterparts, it's required more than simple fuel. As she passed by Jayne resisted the urge to help. To her it was a simple mechanism, but it was out of her station and Stormhiemers tended to be very stubborn against help.
They survived the realm of Chamon for centuries alone before the Stormcast arrived. They only accepted the Stormcast because of Sigmar's will and the hosts own resourcefulness. But other than that, their machines were their own. Walking up to the front of the Stromhost where her steed was waiting for her. A gryph-charger by the name of Mars waited for her. The black and red gryph-charger accepted no one else as it's master.
It was strange how its selected Jayne as it's master. One of the Palladors thought it had chosen him to ride it, but when he did try to ride it, it kicked him off. It then ignored all of the others who tried to let them mount it or get it's attention. All of it failed however, until it saw Jayne fight one of her primes. It broke out of the stables and stood between her and the prime growling at him. That surprised everyone before it turned and bowed towards her accepting her as it's rider and mistress.
Since then it had always been loyal to her and only her. Walking up to Mars the charger bowed towards her and she bowed back before climbing on his back. Despite his aggressiveness towards others he was a caring steed. Several Freeguilders passed Mars a little too closely had their hats pulled off by the creature. It only made a few laughs as just about everyone knew of the temperamental steed and knew to keep their distance.
A Stromcast eternal is worth at least 10 or 20 men in battle, but overconfidence is an enemy one must avoid. Jayne knew this all too well and assembled a host so that speed would prioritise. Scouting missions needed a light touch. She reached into the Vanguard chambers and part of her own and managed to get 120 Stromcast for the mission. Mostly made up of Hunters and Palladors and a few liberators.
As time passed the force was soon ready and they moved into the realm of beasts.
"Damn it all," Joker yelled as a Cerberus ship closed in on them.
Despite the destruction of the Reapers a few managed to escape. This ship in particular was under the control of some evolved Husks Something that Cerberus was working on. They were not the brainless zombies that they had to face in the past, instead they were intelligent. It was like a hive mind mentality, they worked as one, fought as one, thought as one. This made it hard to take them down. For the past 3 years, the Normandy and her crew hunted them down as the galaxy rebuilt.
Ashley Williams, commander of the Normandy ran up to the cockpit and looked at the display. She was soon followed by Miranda and Garrus.
"Not good," Garrus muttered as a shot hit the side of the ship making it shake a bit.
"They are tracking us," EDI said as she and her husband piloted the ship.
Man, and machine working together side by side was better than just a human or machine pilot. Another hit against the hull made the ship shake again, this time more violently. Several of the panels blinked as some of the systems were disrupted from the shot. Some didn't come back. Joker cursed as he tried to compensate, but the ship then stopped. Even with the inertial dampeners on the sudden stop made people lose their balance.
"What was that?" Miranda asked as she recovered.
"WORMHOLE!" EDI said with panic.
Looking outside Ash saw a purple swirl in space. It looked unnatural as it sat there. But something was off, wormholes didn't have a gravitational pull so what happening? The Cerberus ship was pulled in and disappeared into the hole. Just as suddenly as it appeared it disappeared before her eyes. Ash had to blink in surprise making sure she knew what she saw.
"What happened?" she asked.
EDI checked her systems making sure that what happened was real. "This is strange," she said.
"What is?" Garrus asked. "That a wormhole just appeared and disappeared?"
"Not only that," the AI said. "But there's a lightning storm ahead of us and closing in,"
Miranda got up to look outside of the window. "Can we move?" she asked.
"Not all propulsion systems are dead," Tali's voice echoed from the engine room.
The crew could only watch as the lighting cloud moved and engulfed the ship.
The realm of Ghur, the realm of beasts was always a mix of landscapes were the monsters of the realm reside. From forests with trees that pierced the sky to desert wastes that covered miles upon miles of land. It was hard to see how anyone except the Orruks could make a home here. But that was Stormheim, stubborn as an Orruk.
The scouting force has split up into the two main scouting forces but then they split up into smaller units after setting up a camp. Scouting the mortal realms was no easy task. So, the generals of Stormheim came up with a simple tactic. Use one force then split it into two, the forces would then set up a camp in a secluded area before splitting into smaller units. This allowed the force to cover a wider area. This also made the force less likely to be attacked when on the move or scouting.
Jayne moved along the desert with a scouting cadre of Stormcast vanguards and outriders. They numbered at 20 scouts. She didn't want a big number as they would be spotted with ease, but didn't want a small number in case of an attack. She needed to be careful. Orruks could be sneaky when they wanted to be, which was rare. She sighed behind her death helm. Scouting was boring to say the least, but Kaira was right. She needed to get out of the city and the patrolling of the walls.
They moved as a decent pace, moving too fast meant that important information but too slow would make them a target. Somewere in between was better. The outriders stuck with her for the time being but the hunters moved on ahead to scout the immediate area. The storm in hear chest began to thunder, a warning of something coming.
"My Lord look," one of the outriders pointed to the sky.
Jayne looked to the sky and Mars stopped along with the horses. Two comets flew across the sky making her eyes widen. Jumping off Mars she removed her helm and ran towards them ignoring the shouting of the outriders as she ran up a dune and looked at were, they landed.
"My lord what is it?" another one of the outriders asked.
"Destiny," she said silently before pulling out her trumpet.
Groaning Ashley hit her comm bead. "Holler if your dead," she groaned before standing.
EDI came back online and shook her head before looking at her console. "Ship's dead, I have no idea where we are," she said before turning to her husband. "Joker,"
"What the hell happened?" asked a voice making eyes turn to see James slowly walk up to them using the wall to stabilise himself.
"We got sucked into a lightning storm in space," Garrus grunted as he stood using the wall to support himself. "I'm too old for this,"
Miranda pulled herself up before walking over to the airlock and opening the doors. Stepping out as the others began to see what happened she looked around, trying to get a scale of what kind of shit they are in. Stepping out onto the desert world. The smoke in the distance indicated where the other ship landed. But other than that, there was nothing but sand, stone and heat. Retreating back into the ship the survivors made their way to what was left of the CIC.
"What's out there," Ashley asked as Miranda re-joined them.
"Just a desert," she replied. "But the other ship did land a few clicks away from here,"
"That's good then," Tali spoke up. "We need a lot of components to fix the engines and core,"
"So, we're stuck?" Garrus asked.
"More or less," Kenneth added. "Whatever hit us did major damage to the thrusters and core. But everything else looks fine,"
"Why do I get the feeling someone is playing with us?" Liara asked rubbing her head.
No one said anything as they just looked to one another. "We don't know where we are, we have no idea what this place is. Just like so many other times," Ashley smiled. "Ok, Garrus, Tali and me will head over to the ship and get the components the rest of you stay here and keep an eye on the ship,"
Nods of agreement followed and the three grabbed their weapons and left.
They made it about halfway before Garrus stopped. The other two stopped as well looking towards him.
"Something wrong," Tali asked as she approached.
Unsure, Garrus grabbed his binoculars and looked down them before pulling away and looking again. "Humans?" he asked.
"What?" Ashley asked as she pulled out her own and looked down them before doing the same as Garrus. "T… that's not right," she muttered. "How can humans be here?" she asked.
"They are headed for the ship," Garrus said.
"Then let's get there before them,"
The fight didn't go as planned as the Cerberus soldiers countered their attack with ease. The benefits to a hive mind was that there was no emotion, surprise or other such things. It's just thought and reactions. Garrus was trapped behind a dune while Tali and Ash where stuck behind cover. Cerberus had managed to get one of their gun turrets active and that forced them to keep their heads down waiting for their chance to strike.
"FOR SIGMAR! ATTACK!" a thunderous voice then yelled followed by cracks of thunder.
Ashley looked to see several giant armoured knights with some kind of fur on their cloaks. In one hand was a pistol that looked like a short crossbow and a sword in the other. They moved in fast cutting down the Cerberus soldiers with ease. Black blood soon painted the floor as soldiers on horseback rode up and began to fire finishing the rest of the soldiers off.
Ashley was the first to look to see the knights and the soldiers with the bizarre looking multi barrelled flint locks. As she watched she then noticed something about the uniforms and the puldrons on the knights. Red and yellow, her mind raced as there must be some significant reason for this. She was so focused on trying to identify them that she didn't notice Tali patting her.
"Ashely," the Quarrian then half yelled making attention turn to her.
Ash looked to Tali before her eyes followed where she was looking. Her eyes then looked at a towering knight in a similar armour to the ones who had taken out the Cerberus forces. The yell had gotten the attention of the knights and soldiers forcing the two to rise with their hands up. The knight before them stood a head taller than Ashley and the other soldiers. The knight said nothing and indicated for the others to lower their weapons.
"Commander, I see you are occupied," Garrus said.
Ash said nothing but moved her hand so that Garrus wouldn't fire. It was a small movement but the knight noticed and looked in the Turrians direction. The knight then pointed to two of the other knights and then towards Garrus' direction making Ashley curse.
Jayne looked at them, her mind buzzed with excitement and questions. She knew these people; her memories came flooding back. Not all of them but enough to know who she was now. After having a few of the Stormcast get Garrus questions started to be raised. Now wasn't the time to tell them, so she used Gallus, the hunter prime, to communicate with them.
After bringing Garrus to join them they where lined up in front of the ship with Stormheimers and Stormcast watching them.
"Where the rest of you?" he asked. "Do not lie to us, you will not like it,"
After looking from one to another Ashley answered. "At our ship, we need to get parts to repair it,"
Jayne shook her head before whispering to Gallus. "We will take you to your ship, but we must destroy this one,"
"You can't!" Tali them cried out stepping forward making people rise their weapons. "If we don't get those parts, we cannot get back home,"
"If you do not destroy the ships, you cannot get back home," Gallus relayed. "There are forces at work in these lands that you will not understand,"
"Ashley," Tali muttered.
"Do what he says, we may have to destroy the Normandy too," Ash replied.
"Bu…" Garrus began to say but was cut off.
"We don't have a choice here," she said. "These people know more about this place then we do. We have to do what they say,"
Reluctantly the two nodded making Jayne smile a bit. "Good we will move the bodies and weapons onto the ship before it's destruction," Gallus said.
The soldiers moaned but followed the orders reluctantly. But as they began Gallus decided to add something else without Jayne saying anything.
"Do not bring anything back with you," he said. "Everything must go on the vessel," his tone indicated that he would kill anyone who would try to talk back or otherwise.
He looked to her to see if he was doing the right thing and Jayne nodded in response. He knew something was going on, but decided not to question it for now. She had her reasons for doing this despite the fact it could help. Soon what had came out of the ship was back on and Tali walked in with Jayne accompanying the Quarrian.
The ship was small, a frigate, so it was easy to get to the engine room. She then watched Tali as she activated the self-destruct while trying to make it look like she didn't know what was happening. But due to her being there made sure that Tali did as she was told, even if it didn't look like she knew what was going on. After setting up the auto-destruct Tali looked up at Jayne before walking out with the Stormcast following.
After arriving at the Normandy Jayne allowed them to get a few things that were not technological. She knew about the omni-tools but knew that if she asked to get rid of those then the crew would become suspicious about her identity. So, she left that, for now as the crew got a few things. Mostly underwear and a few pieces of jewellery. They also had to leave their weapons behind, something that everyone was not happy with but she ignored it.
But while they got things, the Stormcast and humans muttered about what they were looking at the crew and ship. Liara was with them which made Jayne smile remembering that time during the hunt for Seren. But now was not the time for this sort of thing. Once they were done and the self-destruct set, they headed back to camp.
The camp was a good distance away so they needed to make sure they moved at a quick pace. Excluding Gallus, the hunters moved on ahead to make sure the way was clear. As they moved Miranda walked up to the hunter prime.
"So, what are you?" she asked.
Gallus looked to her before to Jayne who just nodded. "I am a Stormcast Eternal of the Knights of Dawn," he said with pride as it meant something.
"And what is a Stormcast eternal?" that question got her an odd look from the hunter.
"We are warriors of the God King Sigmar," he continued as if it meant something. "Re-forged upon the anvil of Apotheosis, we are the God King's finest warriors. We are his storm,"
"Re-forged?" she then asked.
"To be a Stormcast, you must prove yourself to a hero of order. To impress Sigmar is no easy feat. Most of us died before we became Stormcast,"
"You died?" Kenneth then asked in shock. "Are you some kind of zombie?" he earned a elbow to the ribs from is wife and a glare from the other Stormcast.
Before they could say anything, Jayne grunted loudly and shook her head. Whatever she meant was understood by the other Stormcast and they settled back down.
"No, we are not zombies. Such soulless beings are the fodder of Naggash, the undead of Shyish are his. We are of Sigmar, we have been rebuilt from our souls," Gallus replied.
"Why doesn't your leader talk?" Garrus asked.
"Oh, she talks. But at times she just choses not to talk," he responded. "This is one of those times,"
Miranda nodded slightly looking up at Jayne who tried not to meet the Lawson's gaze. That sharpness, never seemed to waver. It was good to know some things never change. She fell silent knowing that some of the questions she would ask would need more detail than what the hunter prime would give.
It didn't take them long to reach camp, but it was empty. Mostly because Jayne had sent one of the hunters to clear the camp. She wanted as few people to know about her crew as much as possible. One of the larger of the tents was cleared and the crew was ordered in. Seeing that they had no option they walked in, but did complain a bit. Once inside Jayne jumped off Mars and sighed.
"All this time," she muttered.
"I take it you have your memories back," Gallus asked
"Indeed, remember the story that I was plucked from the stars? Well it turns out I was plucked from another universe," that made him look at her with wide eyes. "You serious?"
Jayne nodded. "Do we have any spare uniforms?" Gallus nodded. "Good, no one is to enter that tent without my permission, we will treat them like guests until we reach Stormheim. Blankets, rations will be given to them when requested from one of the guards. No one is to speak of this, if any Freeguilder speaks of this…" she let the words hang in the air for a few moments before walking towards the tent.
She didn't need an answer, Gallus knew what she meant. A Jayne walked into the tent Joker decided to take his anger out on her.
"You damn fascist pig!" he yelled, "You blow up my ship, you destroy our tech and you keep in in the dark of where we are? What right do you have to do that to us? Thanks, you we are now stranded here!" the stares from the others shared that view.
"Oh, and what about that omni-tool?" she then asked making eyes widen and look to one another.
"How did you know about that?" he asked backing up.
"Well Joker, it's because I used to have one," she said. "Sorry for doing this to all of you, but I do have my reasons. Which I will explain to the best of my abilities,"
"Who are you?" Liara asked stepping forward.
Jayne said nothing and unlocked her helm. Pulling it off her red hair flowed down her back before she pulled the steel coloured death mask away. As they looked at her a collective gasp echoed in the tent.
"No way," Joker said as he looked up at her. "Commander?"
"Shepard?" Liara asked as tears began to flow from her eyes while her hands still covered her mouth.
Without answering there was a collective move to hug the commander with declarations on how much they missed her.
"Ok break it up guys," she insisted making them break before she walked over to the other end of the tent and sat. "Sit, and ask. I'll answer what I can,"
Nodding the crew sat in a circle before the questions began. "So," Miranda spoke up making it clear she wanted to go first. "Let's start at the beginning, how did you end up here? As a Stormcast?"
Jayne hung her head for a moment before looking up. "Not much, all I remember is fighting something that looked like EDI. Taking something to the chest… I remember removing the head of the machine. Then all I remember is becoming a Stormcast,"
"You don't remember?" Ashley asked.
"Not fully no, a price to pay for being a Stormcast; is the loss of memory. The re-forging process does that, eventually you lose who you are," she said with a solemn voice.
"So, there are things you don't remember?" Liara asked with a fearful tone only to be answered with a nod. "That's terrible,"
"It's a sacrifice we pay to fight the fell forces of Chaos," she muttered. "Something that I do not pay without a fight, even when I don't remember,"
"You didn't remember anything?" Garrus then asked. "But how do you remember your death? Or us?"
"Sigmar," she muttered. "The God king must have put some kind of block on my memories. Until I met you all I could remember was my first name, N7 and Spectre. Other than that, nothing,"
"Who is this Sigmar? And why would he block your memories?" Ash asked.
Taking a deep breath Jayne drew some confidence before speaking. "Sigmar is the God king of order, and when I say God, I mean a literal god. He was the one who took me from the milky way and turned me into Stormcast, he must have realised that my memories might cause some friction with others so sealed them away. Or he knew that you guys were coming and gave them back so I guide you. I have no idea,"
"Why did you destroy the ships?" Tali then asked a little annoyed.
"The Krogan," Jayne said. "I know it's not a good comparison but think about it. Would you give these people technology? They might blow themselves up, not to mention the forces of Death, Chaos and Destruction would love to get their hands on them. Something brought you here, and for a reason. What that reason is we need to fight out. In the meantime, I cannot allow the other forces, Order or otherwise, to know about another universe. If you saw what Chaos can do, you'd understand,"
"What i…." EDI then tried to ask but Jayne cut her off.
"Stop right there," she said quickly. "Just saying it brings their attention to us, I can say it because Sigmar protects. Chaos is hard to explain, it's a corrupting force that mutates all it touches. Twists them into nightmarish horrors that you would not believe. They destroyed a world before, and they can and will do it again. There are four main gods, Khorne the blood god, Tzeentch the god of plans, Nurgle the god of plagues, and Slaanesh the god of pleasure. They each have their own territory and armies. But some follow all three, like I said hard to explain,"
"So, what will happen to us now?" Samantha asked speaking up for the first time.
"Well, for the time being you will remain at the camp. I have two Stormcast posted at the entrance who will not let anyone enter or leave without my permission," she replied as she began to outline her plan. "This is a scouting mission; we are looking for Orcs who have been making raids against the city where I have been living. It's called Stormheim, once we are done you guy's need to dress like Stormheimers until we get to the Lord-Commander and explain the situation. Until then I need you guys to stay here. If you want anything just let my Stormcast know and they'll do what they can,"
Jayne then stood and walked to the entrance. "I need to get back, if you have more questions I'll answer as best as I can. Oh, and it's good to see you all again," she then left.
The winds blew the purple sands of Shyish covered the landscape as a lone black armoured figure walked across them. Its eyes glowed an ominous yellow as it walked undisturbed. A small group of Freeguilders came close and looked to the figure.
"Hey!" one of them yelled. "Need help?"
The figure said nothing and stopped a few feet away from them. "I bring ascension," it said before pillars of iron impaled the Freeguilders. "I am Harbenger,"