Five months later...

The world would one day hold a civilised species, one that sought out the greater good in all things, and desired to work together towards that common good. The world would one day be the cradle of an empire, an empire of optimism, hope and understanding (at least, an empire that claimed to be one of optimism, hope and understanding. The truth was hardly that simple).

Except that now it wouldn't. And perhaps that was for the best. What optimism could survive in that cosmos, a cosmos dominated by death and violence and a pantheon of Gods whose only desire was destruction?

It irked Khorne to see the world burn under Imperial guns, and Nurgle would miss the diseases. Slaanesh found the alien sexual practices entertaining and was annoyed that he/she/it was denied watching them further, and Tzeentch sighed as another future shifted beyond possibility, a future he had looked forward to seeing: it promised change.

The four had argued, warred, discussed, disagreed, agreed, disagreed again and yet still, despite their disharmony their plan was working closely towards it's beginning. It was a complicated plan - Tzeentch's influence - with bloodshed and corruption galore, perfect for Khorne, Slaanesh and Nurgle alike.

The anomaly - the one the humans called "Emperor" - was wising up more and more to their cunning, insidious nature. They knew him by many banes. "The Immune," "The Anathema," and "the Deviance," among others. He was a tricky beast, something they truly didn't understand, but that they feared. If they didn't understand him then he was immune to the corrupting influences of Chaos, which made him their greatest threat.

And threats had to be eliminated.

Captain Manekis Bremlic of the Gamma Dragons looked upon the burning of a world with dispassionate eyes.

"I trust the sight isn't too unpleasant?" the Emperor said from next to him. He was resplendent in his armour: merely power armour this time round, but still impressive.

"No," Bremlic said. "I do wonder why this world needs burning. The life forms aren't even sapient yet."

Senior Chaplain Mecanicil, standing next to Bremlic, tilted his head. "We are clearly not going to be colonising."

"No," the Emperor said. "There would be no point, this world will be surrounded by a warp storm soon enough."

Bremlic looked at Mecanicil. Mecanicil merely smiled as the Emperor went off to check something on a console.

"I told you," he said. "His will is omnipotent."

"He's always telling us to not call him a God," Bremlic said, frowning.

"The truly divine clearly would," Mecanicil said smugly. "It's just as Erebus said."

Horus Aximand, Chapter Master of the Scions of Terra looked down at the information slate as yet another world was evacuated. The Chapter had been here for five months overseeing the total evacuation of Wailon, a possible Nee-Crone (whatever they were) homeworld. He had no idea why they were abandoning the planet instead of seeking the Nee-Crones out and exterminating them but hey: what could you do? He was a Space Marine, of the Adeptus Astartes. His not to reason why.

Overseeing the evacuation and destruction of the world properly was Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines, who was currently deep in discussion with a White Consuls Captain and a Black Consuls Captain. Aximand neither knew nor cared what they were talking about.

Guilliman walked over to him. "Aximand," he said. "How is the evacuation going?"

"Estimates place it at eighty five percent complete," Aximand replied. "But I'm still not sure why we're evacuating. These Nee-Crones..."

"Necrons," Guilliman corrected him.

"Fine Necrons - they can't be that tough."

Guilliman looked grim. "I've had a talk with the Emperor on this subject, as it happens. Though he won't tell me the exact nature of the threat, he does insist that this is the best course of action we can take."

Aximand looked unconvinced, but nodded. The Emperor had gone back to leading crusades, helping out and generally being the kind of Emperor he was in the good old days, quashing many of the whispers that he had abandoned the crusaders. Aximand personally thought that the Emperor ought to go govern, but there were regents for that.

Severus went through the latest reports. Another fifty aspirant Marines had begun the training, another twenty had been placed in Power Armour.

Techmarine Malachi had reported that several Techpriests had finalised production on Mars of Mark VII armour for the enter Astartes, which meant that Severus could get his armour suitably fixed up, something he was happy about.

Chaplain Marcus had little to say for himself, save a report that there were several aspirant Marines having nightmares - nightmares that set them apart as potential Psykers... Severus had known this might be a problem as Venefus - the Fourth Company's lamented Librarian - had been dead for almost a year now. Still, he had sent a request to those he knew could help.

One thing that bothered him was the attitude many Import Officers had developed over the months; that the Doctrine of Peace was weak, and the Chapter was working beneath itself by adopting it. And more worryingly, that Severus was unfit to command. Severus supposed that he should have expected it; who was he and where had he come from? Where had the Revenants come from?

He had summoned the leader of the movement to his office. He would soon get to the bottom of this.

Brother Captain Iantus stepped forward through the door. He was a more experienced warrior, according to his record, than Severus was, which might explain his resentment at not being Chapter Master. It did not explain the openness of that resentment. A Space Marines swore loyalty to his Chapter and his Chapter Master. To break that loyalty was true heresy, of the worst kind.

"My Lord," Iantus said, contempt in his voice.

"Mind your tone," Severus said. "Your words have gotten you into some trouble, Iantus."

"Is that so?" the Captain asked, unconcerned.

"Frequently," Severus said, "you have been heard to disparage the Doctrine, the Chapter... and my leadership." The Chapter Master looked up at Iantus. "Any excuses?"

"None," Iantus said.

"Any other words?"

"I'm sure there will be no significant punishment," Iantus sneered. "You'll take pity on me and wax lyrical about how uncivilised it would be to punish me like you'd have the Chapter do with the Emperor's enemies..."

Severus stood up and punched him, snarling. "The enemy are Xenos and heretics!" he snapped. "They know no better! And we may pity them their ignorance, but we will still kill them. You are Astartes," he added, as Iantus threw a punch, which Severus caught. "A Space Marine's duty is loyalty, and his loyalty is to his brothers. You have shown no such loyalty."

"You are not my brother," snarled Iantus. Severus kicked him into a wall.

"I am your superior," he said. "And you have attacked me, verbally and now physically. You have attempted to undermine my authority with the Chapter. You have, in short, betrayed me, and through me you have betrayed the Imperium. I don't think you have left me any recourse."

Severus took a deep breath. "You are banished from the Chapter, exiled from our ranks, along with any who wish to accompany you."

Iantus's eyes widened, shock bleeding in.

"But... but... I have served the Emperor loyally for centuries!" he said, disbelief laced through his voice.

"I know," Severus said sadly. "And I almost understand why you did what you did. But I must be strong."

"I... I am a servant of the Emperor... I know nothing else," Iantus said, as plaintively as a Space Marine had ever said. Severus' cold face softened.

"Then I will offer some small comfort," he said. "You may return in fifty years. If, after that time, you have come to understand the Doctrine of Peace and why we adopt it, you may retake your place in our ranks."

Iantus' eyes narrowed.

"How am I to come to this understanding?" he asked.

"That I leave to you," Severus said. "Now you must depart."

"Does your Doctrine contain a ritual for casting warriors out?" Iantus said.

"It never had to," Severus said. "It's never happened before."

Iantus nodded, and turned to leave. Severus sighed as the former Imperial Fist walked out. He knew he'd probably never see the Marine again. He wouldn't try to learn. Severus had the horrible feeling he was creating the first renegade... but regulations were clear.

Chaplain Marcus was waiting for him when he got to the main landing pad. The Chaplain's unmasked face was grim.

"Iantus?" he asked. Severus shook his head. The Chaplain sighed. "I knew there was a problem. I should have helped him acclimatise."

"You can't help those who don't want help," Severus said. "Our guests?"

"Inbound," Marcus said. "You're sure about this?"

"He's the best at his job," Severus said.

"He's also one of... them," Marcus said, referring to those legions that should have turned traitor.

"That will never happen," Severus said. "That future is dead."

A Thunderhawk gunship began a landing descent, catching the eyes of the two Marines. It was red, with a rather abstract circular symbol on it.

"I hope you're right," Marcus said as the gunship landed and the ramp descended, allowing them to see the passenger.

A red skinned, one eyed giant in unpainted armour, upon which were three Chapter symbols; that of the Red Cyclops, that of the Warp Slayers, and that of the Thousand Sons.

"Chapter Master Severus," Magnus the Red said, warmly, a smile upon his face. "The man whose arrival saved my brothers and I from damnation. You asked for my help?"

"Indeed," Severus said. "Are you aware of the strict rules governing the training of Librarians...?"

"Father was quite clear on the matter," Magnus said, smiling still. "Do not worry, I can sense the aspirants waiting. I had best go deal with your worries."

Without another word, the primary walked off, seeking those who would soon become those of Venefus' kind.

"I wish he was here," Severus said. Marcus nodded, knowing what his friend meant, and together they walked behind the psyker-Primarch.