AN: I have not read Prospero Burns, and my only info on the Horus Heresy comes from lexicanum where I couldn't place the burning of Prospero in an exact timeframe. This is meant to be a parody.
A Light Found
Leman Russ was brooding. It was unusual for him to do so, he preferred to just go with his instincts as usual and let others 'cultivate headaches'. But now… He was on the way to Prospero in the private quarters of his flagship the Mjolnir, mulling over the words from Horus. Kill Magnus and his cronies? That didn't sound like his dad at all. Sure, the old man had been livid that Magnus had broken one of his commands, but to kill him… That was a bit extreme. A bit too extreme. He also heard of the message Magnus had sent. Horus a traitor. Yeah, right. Horus was the Emperor's favorite for crying out loud.
Even so, it was true that the guy didn't exactly sound like himself lately, and while he 'disagreed' with Magnus about a lot of things Magnus had never done anything harmful on purpose. The guy did have a knack for getting into trouble though, with all those book skills he never once seemed to realize that going into dark places that were rumored to be haunted was a really. Bad. Idea. Russ remembered a joint campaign once, where he had to venture into a gigantic maze of caverns because his stupid brother got lost. Again. He shivered subconsciously, he never did mind caves but those bats. Those Emperor-damned bats! His beard wasn't meant as a place to live in, damn-it!
Where was he again? Oh yeah, arrest or kill. Sensing their master's distress, Freki and Geri nudged him gently with their noses. Leman scratched their ears, looking at his two most trusted friends.
"What to do, what to do lads?" he muttered absentmindedly. He could almost imagine their responses.
'One who has abandoned the pack deserves death. If it's unclear wether one is still a pack member, the Pack leader must subjugate him/her or chase him/her off.'
That was the right thing to do, he decided. If Magnus was to truly going to betray the Emperor, well, let's see him try to do so in front of good ol' Russ. With that mindset, he called the bridge.
"Russ here. Belay that bombardment order. We're going in there in person, and don't start shooting till I say so." he said.
"Sir?" came the confused reply. Probably one of the guys who wanted to shoot first and ask questions later.
"Unless it's urgent, do be so kind as to shut up and do as ordered." said Leman. If he gave an order, they'd better carry it out, damn it.
Magnus the Red was… surprised to say the least. He had expected Russ to start bombarding the second his ships dropped out of the warp. Instead, the great wolf had pleasantly surprised him by throwing around expletives and arrest warrants instead of high explosives. Although his days were most likely numbered, this was much better than what he had thought would happen. Walking down the central street of Tizca for what he supposed was the last time, he quickly made his way towards the space port where his brother waited for him. He could hear the booming voice from afar.
"I'll then make ya eat ear own bones and then shit them out again if ya don't give me Magnus' location, ya sniveling pile o' snot! And this is before I get truly nasty!"
No changes to Russ'… gentle demeanor, so it would seem. Ah, well, here goes nothing.
"Brother, please stop harassing that poor man, can't you see he's scared shitless?" Magnus said casually as he entered the arrivals hall. It was crowded, not with the usual civilians, but with heavily armed and armored troops. Magnus could feel a wave of nausea hit him. There were pariahs amongst these troops, he realized. As powerful as the gathered warriors were, however, they were all dwarfed by the man who led them: Leman Russ himself, his overgrown watchdogs Freki and Geri close by his side. Magnus didn't dislike the two wolves per se, it was just that they weren't exactly house broken. Sniffing the air, he realized the pariahs weren't the only cause of his nausea. Emperor have mercy on the clean-up crews.
"Magnus! You dirty coward! You're coming with me!" Russ shouted, pivoting on his heels.
"So I gathered. Shall we then?" said Magnus, still unfazed. Leman seemed to deflate a bit.
"You're not resisting?" he asked. He sounded almost… disappointed. Magnus raised his only eyebrow.
"Do you want me to?" he teased.
"Magnus, you're now officially under arrest under suspicion of ignoring a direct order."
"Do I have the right to make a phone call?"
"This isn't some bad Arbites movie brother. You're coming with me immediately, no phone calls."
Meanwhile, in the warp, in Tzeentch' palace, something was wrong. Tzeentch just knew it. He went over his checklist again.
Fireplace to sit in front of. Check.
Martini to sip. Check.
Malicious laugh. Oh, he'd spent ages perfecting one just for this moment. Check.
Complicated gambit, in this case involving the burning of Prospero. Check.
Successful execution of said gambit. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU-
Ahem. He sat down in front of the fireplace, sipped the Martini and laughed maliciously. Then in a triumphant voice, he said; "Not. As. Planned."
It would be a shame to let all those preparations go to waste even if the plan had failed. Having done that, Tzeentch began planning his next moves. Maybe accelerating Horus' communique with Russ might have meant that the Wolf had had too much time to think things over.
Although power and inclination towards warp sorceries varied, all of the primarchs were psykers beyond compare. As such, when the full scale of Horus' treachery became apparent, Leman and Magnus both realized it at the same time. In his cell, Magnus simply collapsed, blubbering something about being too late. Leman Russ recoiled visibly as if struck, but remained more collected. Immediately he went to his brother to both apologize and ask for help against the traitors. When he found Magnus having a mental breakdown, Russ being Russ simply hit him over the head. Hard. Magnus hit the wall of the cell with enough force to dent the adamantium.
"Quit sniveling like some beaten pup! I… I'm sorry that I doubted ya, brother. Now get your boys over to Terra ASAP, we have an appointment with dad and I'd hate it if we'd let the old man down." Russ said. Slowly Magnus picked himself up.
"Owww… Thank you brother, I needed that. Where is your astropath?" Magnus said, clutching his head.
Meanwhile, at the Imperial palace, the battle was not going well. For every heretic thrown screaming from the parapets, ten more stood ready to take his place. The tide seemed endless, and slowly but surely the Chaos forces were gaining ground. Even the Emperor himself could not stem the flow, for He could simply not be at all places at all times. Slicing another traitor in twain, the Emperor felt a gentle tickle at the back of his mind. It wasn't a psyker trying to attack him (there were those who were foolish enough to try), it was a communique from... was that Magnus?
'Father, are you there?' came a whisper. It was Magnus. With the knowledge he had now, the Emperor felt he could not apologize deeply enough. How could He have been so blind? Still, the past could not be undone. This was just one of His many, many regrets throughout the ages, He would now have to deal with the consequences of his actions.
'I hear you Magnus. I cannot say how sorry I am, you were correct.'
'As much as I would like to start singing 'I told you so' in an annoying voice, I believe there are more pressing matters at hand. Permission for me and my legion to use the full extent of our arcane knowledge again?' Magnus asked. The Emperor considered this. As dangerous as their knowledge was, fact remained that the Thousand Sons were several times more effective in combat when they were using their arcane powers. Their entire combat doctrine was built around it. He reached a decision.
'Granted, temporarily. Even I do not know the full consequences of some of them, and we have enough cleaning up to do as is.' replied the Emperor.
'Excellent.' One could almost feel the smugness in Magnus' tone.
On the bridge of the Mjolnir, Magnus opened his eyes. He was standing next to the command throne of Russ. Smiling, he turned towards his brother.
"Father has given me and my legion our powers back. Excuse me for the inconvenience of what I am about to do, it's a bit… unsettling to experience." he said.
"Experience what, brother?" Russ said with an eyebrow raised.
"This." Magnus replied, and snapped with his fingers. Immediately everyone on board could hear Magnus' voice in their minds, rolling like thunder. As they listened to his words, they realized they weren't even the focus of the message, it was just a side effect of the insane amount of power Magnus was channeling.
'Brothers! Hear my words, and weep! Horus has turned his back towards humanity! Even as I speak, his forces and those loyal to the Emperor fight on Terra itself! In His wisdom, my father has reversed the decree that limited our powers! Make all haste towards Terra! Flay their minds! Boil their blood! Strike the traitors down with the full force of the heavens! Show them what the Thousand Sons are truly capable of!'
A chorus of voices replied with joyous affirmatives. Leman cleared his throat, and Magnus released the spell.
"Bit over the top, no?" said Leman, before activating the Mjolnir's PA system.
"Alright brothers, as usual when the smaller brother is boasting it's up to the big brother to get them out of the mess again. You will be forced to fight alongside the Thousand Sons so bring plasters and spare diapers with you for first aid. Make sure that you show them how a proper warrior fights." he said. In reply, a chorus of battle-cries and cheers came from the Space Wolf contingent.
"Full of ourselves, aren't we? Anyway, I have something else I've recently discovered to be possible that I really, really want to do. Don't worry, it doesn't involve anyone else but me." Magnus said.
"What're you planning?" asked Leman.
"I'll show you. Where's your airlock?"
"We're in the warp!"
"I am aware."
"Just for the record: This seems unwise." Leman's voice said over the vox.
"I know, I know. But it's sooo worth it. Cameras are in place?" said Magnus from inside his armor. It was a beautifully crafted piece of technology, with an ornate egyptian style helmet, blood red coating, numerous holy sigils and golden trim. It had the Thousand Sons symbol proudly emblazoned on the right shoulder cauldron, and Magnus' personal banner on the left.
"Yes. We're all set."
"Good. In that case…" Magnus struck a pose. He was standing on the outside of the Mjolnir, at the front of the ship. The fact that this was impossible didn't seem to bother the Primarch. Magnus opened his mouth.
Reality was given a wedgie, and the ship broke through to the materium.
Horus was getting desperate. His forces were winning, but not fast enough. If they continued to take ground at the current rate, the loyalists could get reinforcements from the Dark Angels, several companies of Space Wolves and the Ultrasmurfs (he could have sworn he heard Roboute scream in indignation. Served the smug bastard right.) before he could secure his position. The conflict needed to end soon, for better or for worse.
"Lower the void shields." Horus ordered.
"Milord, will they not board us then?" asked one of his bodyguards. Horus stroked his blades.
"I hope so." he said, "I hope so."
As predicted, a boarding attempt was made. Dark magics prevented the teleport from succeeding completely, and the boarders were scattered throughout the ship. On the bridge, alarms blared.
"Boarders confirmed in sector 7 through 13, containment teams are on the way. Contact lost with deck B, dispatching teams Lion and Tiger-" a heretical officer rambled, as the tactical command struggled to keep up with the developments. Horus was deaf to it all, already having sensed his greatest adversaries and silently counting down the time before they would burst onto the bridge. Suddenly, his attention was drawn by something else.
"Bring sector 42 on screen." he ordered, disturbed. This… This was impossible! How could those two be here? On the screen, space-time was bent, mangled and finally broken as ships came out of the warp. Imperial loyalist ships. And at the front of the fleet, seemingly surfing on top of a giant battle barge, was Magnus the Red, posing heroically and screaming:
Part of Horus noted that the ship, identified now as the Mjolnir, was on a collision course with his own.
The battering ram in front of the Mjolnir preformed flawlessly, gutting a frigate before piercing the hull of Horus' ship and wedging itself stuck there. The daemon possessed ship wailed in agony, visibly twisting in recoil but unable to free itself of the adamantium spike embedded in it's side. It was a testament to the toughness of the Chaos ship that it managed to remain in one piece even after all that punishment. Jumping down into the breach from his perch was Magnus, literally sparking with power as arcane lighting made its way up and down his armored form. Several chaos marines that somehow had managed to survive impact were roasted immediately by bolts of raw energy. Magnus laughed. He knew it was dangerous, but hot damn, unleashing his full power felt incredible.
"Having fun?" Leman said over the vox.
"Yes, loads of it. I'm on… I have no idea really, it's a real mess down here. I think I'm on deck F, near what used to be the port torpedo launchers. Race you to the bridge?"
"You're on. I'll enter via the secondary docking bay and work my way up from there. If you need assistance, my callsign is Grey Leader. Your callsign is Red Leader."
"Understood, Red Leader out."
Mighty champions of the Gods, 'blessed' with all sorts of mutations ran at him, firing their weapons all the way. They burst into flames with a snap of his fingers. Greater Deamons, horrible manifestations of mankind's darkest nightmares, tried to tear him apart. They shrieked in agony as their souls were blasted apart. They weren't banished back into the warp, but truly killed. Autoguns targeted him, but a whispered word turned them onto their erstwhile masters. Doors locked firmly shut, trying to keep him out. They crumpled inwards with a gesture. Eyes ablaze with eldritch energies, Magnus stepped through the ruins of the opposition. He was making progress, but slowly. The ship itself literally conspired against him, rearranging itself so he could never seek cover, or determine the proper direction. The corridor he was currently in had an organic texture and a blood red color, as if he was walking through the intestines of some great beast. It was impossible to see for more than ten meters, when suddenly out of the gloom a shape appeared, sitting in the centre of a crossroads. Nine great feathery wings adorned a great, crab like head, with serpentine eyes and a scaly skin. It stood on a variety of legs stuck onto the chin area of the head, great tree trunk like appendages interspersed with sleek, sprinting legs, lean endurance runners and many more. Three great arms sprouted from the center mass, one ending in a great eagle claw, one ending in a giant crab-like pincer and one ending in a writhing mass of tentacles with needle like tips dripping with poison. A Deamon Prince of Tzeentch. As soon as it saw Magnus approach, it let of an ear-splitting shriek and hopped forwards, stabbing out with its tentacles.
"Oh, big boy want to play?" Magnus said, chuckling as he sidestepped the strike. A hollow, disembodied voice answered.
"WESHALL RENDTHEFLESH FROMYOUR BONES! YOUR SOULSHALL BEEATEN! YOUWILL SUFFERETERNALLY!" it said.
"Oh, really?" replied Magnus, "I don't think so. I certainly won't be defeated by someone who can't even pronounce their threats correctly."
"ARROGANT FOOL! YOURDESPAIRSHALL BESWEETON OURTONGUES!" said the monstrosity as it lunged towards him again. In one smooth motion, Magnus unsheathed his battle staff, blocked the blow and made a counterattack. It would be suicide to make a straightforward mental attack against a daemon prince of Tzeentch, even for one as powerful as he.
"I think an utter defeat will be a far better meal for you." Magnus said, landing a blow on the crab claw. The carapace shattered under the force, gore seeping out from the wound as the prince screeched in pain. It lashed out with the other two appendages in a scissor movement, so Magnus simply blocked by holding his staff horizontally. A painful sounding snap reverberated around the corridors as the two appendages nearly impaled themselves on the butt ends of the staff. Pivoting on his heel, he tried to slam one end of the staff into the creatures mouth, intent on breaching through the roof of the things mouth and into the brain. It reacted too fast, ducking under the strike and gripping the staff firmly with it's tongue, which was shaped like a great octopus tentacle. Pulling with all his might, Magnus managed to wrench it free right before the thing tried to run him over. He jumped over it, nearly hitting the ceiling of the hallway, slammed down behind it, and started to pummel it with blows. Narrowly dodging a strike from one of the wings, he noted that it wasn't covered in feathers like he thought at first glance, but with ornately decorated metal daggers.
"WHYDOYOU INSIST ON RESISTING? YOURCHILDREN WILLMERELY SUFFERLONGER!" the prince screamed at him as it turned round.
"My 'children' are more than capable of fending for themselves, especially if weaklings like you are all that threatens them." Magnus replied.
"ARROGANCEAGAIN! TZEENTCHSHALLTEAR APARTALLYOU HOLDDEAR! YOU THINKYOURSELF MASTEROF THEWARP? YOUWILL BEFORCEDTO BEARWITNESS TOTHEIR DOWNFALL!" it screamed, when suddenly a great sword stabbed it from behind, piercing all the way through to it's front.
"You talk too much." said Leman calmly as he wrested his blade free. Hate filled eyes looked at him before turning to Magnus once again.
"REMEMBERTHIS! YOUTHINKYOUHAVEFOUND THECURE? WESHALL LAUGHAT YOURANGUISHED CRIESAS THEPLAGUE RETURNSTOYOUR LEGIONAGAIN!" And with those parting words, the daemon died.
"Wonder what he was talking about?" Leman said.
"So do I, brother." said Magnus, subconsciously rubbing the place where his left eye once sat. What was the plague that thing was talking about? The only thing that came to mind were the mutations caused by his gene-seed, but those problems had been cured a long time ago. Hadn't they?
The battle had been titanic. Holy power sword against cursed lightning claw and mace. In the end, Horus sensed the others approaching, and decided to stop playing around. He swept Sanguinius off his feet, then kicked him in the stomach. Slowly, he approached his fallen brother.
"Now, foolish brother. You will die." Horus said menacingly, and prepared to deliver the final blow. It never came. Instead, a horrid screech came from the ceiling as a blade cut through the very molecules that made up the adamantium alloy. It cut a rough circle in the ceiling above Horus, who watched in horrid fascination as the entire section unceremoniously dropped on his head. As the dust cleared, two figures could be seen slowly rising from the piece of fallen masonry.
"Leman, once again I must applaud your remarkable subtlety when it comes to problems such as these." said one.
"Oh, was little Magnus scared of a small drop?" replied the other. Sanguinius recognized the voices. Were they? No, it was impossible. Those two were supposedly fighting somewhere else, one even reportedly having fallen to Chaos. Magnus the Red and Leman Russ stepped into full view, both quite clearly untainted by Chaos.
"Throne, Sanguinius, are you okay?" gasped Leman as soon as he saw his brother's injuries.
"I'm fine, I'm fine, just some flesh wounds." grumbled the angel.
"I feel obliged to point out that I can see your lungs." replied Magnus, peering at the fallen form. "Is that your spleen?"
"Where's Horus?" asked Leman, looking around. As if on queue, the rubble of the two primarch's rather… unconventional entry exploded outwards, causing them to take up battle stances. Like the avatar of an unholy god, Horus rose up out of the crater, eyes smoldering with hate.
"So the misguided trickster and the mongrel pup decided to join us I see." he said, before jumping towards them far faster than someone his size should be able to. He struck out with the Horus blades, intent on impaling Sanguinius and finishing him off first. He was blocked by Magnus' quarter staff and Leman's two handed sword.
"You'll have to go through us first!" said they in unison. They glanced at one another for a millisecond before splitting up and started to circle around Horus, attacking from two sides at once. With inhuman grace, the traitor king dodged, blocked and parried every one of their attacks, but slowly he was driven back. It was then, that He entered the bridge. The very floor underneath Him smoldered, the cursed metals unable to withstand the holy energy that flowed from His form. Even Horus paused momentarily, and a silence fell over the bridge. He looked over them all, Magnus half way through casting a spell, Leman with his sword held high, Horus about to block the overhead strike, Sanguinius' prone form on the floor.
"It is true then?" He said sadly. Even after all that had happened, He could scarcely believe it. Horus, his most beloved of sons, had betrayed Him. It stung beyond compare.
"Yes, it is." said Magnus, and finished the spell he was working on. It nearly blasted Horus' off his feet, but in his stumble he was unable to completely deflect the strike of Russ' two-hander. A great chunk of armor fell from his shoulder, exposing fragile systems and tainted flesh beneath. Then He was upon him as well. The following battle was a blur as the men-turned-gods did battle. Somehow, despite being outnumbered three to one, Horus held his ground. It was mostly due to the Emperor being unable to land a truly powerful blow, for whenever an opening presented itself, He would remember His son smiling at a brilliant victory, or the tears shared due to an unexpected loss, and a myriad of other things He had faced together with the Warmaster, preventing Him from committing to a strike.
It was a multilevel battle: the physical one was the most obvious, but if one were to focus, one could hear the bitter words being exchanged between the three as they crossed swords on a diplomatic level. One sensitive to such things would also feel the third layer of the conflict as attack and counterattack was made on the immaterial plane. Any daemon that came too close was simply torn apart by the energies wielded, even the Four Fathers themselves were keeping clear outside of fueling their chosen champion. In the end though, it was clear that even powered by the Gods themselves, Horus was simply outclassed. His attacks were not getting through: if the one could not dodge or block, there was always an ally in the way. Simply focussing on the less powerful primarchs first was no option either: The trio was coordinating so fluently, no doubt aided by their mental links, that singling one out was impossible. Eventually, the inevitable came to pass: Horus, distracted by a dual attack of Magnus and the Emperor, lost track of Russ for one small moment. It was all the Wolf needed, and with a shout his two-hander slipped under the defenses of his fallen brother and all but cleaved the traitor in twain. Horus mouthed a curse that would be the end of Russ. The Emperor recognized the incantation, and it was then that he realized that His son was truly beyond rescue if he meant to use that on one of his own brothers. Before Horus could finish casting, a golden blade pierced him through the head.
Silence ruled the bridge for a second. Then, the Emperor fell to his knees.
"What have I done?" He muttered in disbelief, staring at His now dead son. Magnus sighed.
"It was necessary father, and you know it." he said.
"That does not make it any easier." came the reply. Magnus was forced to think back to the early days, when mutation was still rife within his legion. How many of his own sons had turned his back to him, knowingly or unknowingly, when their minds were warped by the gene-seed implantation process? Too many to keep track of, even for one such as him. Yet he felt the same pain each and every time he was forced to execute yet another monster that once was a man.
"I know. The only thing that we can do now is get at the bastards who were responsible for this. At least we know the nature of what we're fighting now, so we'll no longer be caught off guard. Now, I believe we have a job to finish?" Magnus asked. Slowly, the Emperor got up, and allowed a single tear to roll down His cheek.
"Correct. I will not allow emotion to cloud my judgement as much as before. The past cannot change, only the future can. Time to deal with these traitors in the way they deserve." Said the He with conviction. "The time for talk is over. They either surrender, or die."
Thus, the siege of Holy Terra ended. The traitor primarchs were hunted down and slain by the Emperor himself, who now freely allowed knowledge of the Warp to spread. True to His predictions, many worlds panicked, hives became rife with riots and man hunts for those suspected possessed. The information helped save many more worlds though, as daemonic infestations were more readily recognized and dealt with. Unfortunately for the Thousand Sons, mutation rates skyrocketed as ancient wards mysteriously failed one after the other. In the end, a solution was found as Magnus and the Emperor collaborated on what was widely know as the Rubric of the Thousand, a ritual in which the Thousand Sons were infused with what amounted to a tiny bit of the essence of the Emperor. It would cost many of them their eyes as those usually boiled out of their sockets due to the amount of energy involved, but the benefits outweighed the costs many times over as their powers increased exponentially. Moreover, in conjunction with their armor many marines still retained a sense of sight superior to standard humans.
It is the dawn of the forty-first millennium. Even though they are severely weakened, the forces of Chaos still exist, plotting their comeback from the Eye of Terror. The Orks still roam the galaxy at large, an uncountable horde constantly looking for conflict. Ancient Eldar constantly try to lure the unwary into their mazes of deceit, dwindling but still a threat. From the intergalactic void, the Tyranids seek to devour all in their path. Awakening to a new universe, the Necron race strides implacably forward, trying to eradicate all life. Naive but brave, the young Tau take the first tentative steps outside of their cradle and onto the long road of life. It is the dawn of the forty-first millennium, and there is only war.
Far away though, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel. Patiently, slowly, and ever so careful, the Guardian of Mankind sees that light and guides humanity towards it, supported by his remaining loyal sons.
I just had this image of Magnus posing on a capital ship cruising through the warp, and to be honest I never thought it would end up looking like this. Still, there now finally exists a fic in which a primarch is literally riding a battleship into battle. I hope you have had as much fun reading as I did writing this little one-shot.