"I'm tired of all this waiting" a deep voice growled from the shadows.
"Patience Baeth, have you trust in our masters? I have foreseen, with their help, the future. Marines od the cursed Ultramarine chapter are to land here, believing that this church holds a sacred relic" Uriel flung his hand to the temple behind him.
"Yeah, well, I'm just tired of waiting. I want to spill the false one's blood!" Baeth said, clenching his gloves into a huge fist.
Uriel looked up and down the huge marine.
"You'll get your chance soon my brother, soon"
"The gun turrets are in position and the missile launchers are ready." A new arrival said.
Uriel turned slowly. "Perfect; I trust you places them as you were ordered." It was more a statement than a question.
"Of course, praised be the unholy ones. " Mercurion intoned.
"Just a few more hours and the drop pods will fall. There will be a full squad with a mighty chaplain leading them. They will be veterans but we will have an advantage in numbers and in surprise. When they land, they will fall right here." The sorcerer pointed out the doorway to the sand clearing next to the temple. "And the Arms of Horus will stain the ground red! For the Parthenon! For chaos!"
Mercurion and Baeth grinned, their yellow armor glinting in the sun, which was beginning to set. Baeth waited with Uriel while Mercurion paused briefly at the desecrated alter to give thanks to the dark ones. Dark bloody symbols decorated the floor. Mercurion slit his palm and carefully added his own to the pentagram.
"For chaos undivided" He said his soft voice deadly silent.
He stood, his huge power armor whirring softly. He walked into the setting sun.
All around him, Arms of Horus milled and ran purposefully as his brothers made the ambush a reality. A stolen thunderfire cannon was wheeled into place on a wall. A group of heavy weapons followed it, missiles in tow. Not very long now, he thought excitedly.
This was an honor Uriel realized. They had judged us and decided us worthy; that must be why they have given us this boon, this chance to prove ourselves. Yes, the gods certainly must have them, their most faithful servants in mind.
He had inspected the ambush, eerthing was ready and was about to got to plan; he had foreseen it.
"What exactly did you see Uriel?" A voice startled him. It was only Mercurion.
"I find your lack of faith disturbing." Uriel responded with a bit of a sneer.
"Not unfaithful" Mercurion replied, "Just careful; just pragmatic"
"I see" Uriel said as though he had understood.
"I was granted a vision amidst a blood red sky. The clouds rained acid that day and the heavens were rent with lightning and on that day I was given the most wonderful dream prophesy. I saw this planet, drop pods falling from the sky with the Ultramarine emblem, then the fires of war, cries of pain and anguish so beautiful, my recollection does it no justice."
"After the fight, a pile of broken power armor with a victor standing, delivering the final shot"
Mercurion listened, his eyes glancing out of the corners of his eyes at movements, always searching the skies.
However it was Baeth who spied the first drop pod. It came screaming down through the atmosphere leaving a trail of vaporized air behind it.
"So it begins brothers! Look to the sky but do not spring the trap until my mark!"
Uriel's eyes followed the craft down as it fell. Just a couple hundred feet more, then boosters, then the trap…
The drop pod slammed into the ground with the force of a missile. Uriel was blown backwards as the earth jumped up in a colossal explosion of dirt and twisted metal.
"Take cover" he yelled, "Something is wrong!"
More drop pods fell from the heavens; each one failed to ignite its boosters and met the fate as its brothers.
"This is madness!" Uriel said under his breath, "How can this be?"
The pods stopped falling down. There were four in all.
"Check the wreckage for survivors and leave one alive!" Uriel shouted.
"What happened?" Mercurion asked in a hushed tone; this is not what you saw!"
"I don't know "Uriel snapped, "That is why I want one alive."
He tore off the door to the drop pod nearest him.
Inside were the broken bodies of the Ultramarine squad. Uriel roared in frustration.
"What is this?" he yelled as he dashed through the pod. An entire squad lay dead, their bodies lay limp in their harness.
Baeth came up behind him, blocking the light as his huge bulk entered the vehicle.
"I don't get it; why are you so mad? Our enemies are dead" Baeth pointed out.
"Its not that I feel for these men in any way" he spat on one of the corpses, "I'm glad they're dead; less work for us. But this isn't what I foresaw; I have to know why!" His eyes spotted something out of place.
He stormed to the sergeant, Baeth following dumbly behind him. "What is it Uriel?"
Uriel stopped by the sergeant. Uriel held Baeth back and pointed at a device that was clutched in the dead man's hands.
"It's a signal beacon, but not one I'm familiar with. " He lifted it up. Chaos symbols ran up and down the side of the rod shaped device.
"It's a psychic beacon." He said mysteriously, "a strong one," His rage subsided, replaced by curiosity. "What's going on here?" he said to himself.
While he wondered, Baeth inspected the damage.
"Sorceror, these drop pods were fired upon!" He pointed to a rent through the pod that was obviously not caused by the crash landing. Through the hole in the twisted metal he could see the sky.
"The bastards all suffocated. It would explain why they're dead without a fight. They were caught mid transport, helmets off I guess."
Uriel raised an eyebrow. "You're smarter than you let on Baeth. Raise Pantheon's Might, maybe they engaged the transports in mid-drop, although a battle barge was supposed to drop these marines off. I can't imagine the Pantheon's Might would try to take a ship such as that! That's why I ordered them to stay silent in the first place!"
Mercurion ran his gauntleted hand over one of the holes. "Strange, looks like a laser lance shot. Pantheon's Might is armed with those. "
"Damn it, who has the vox?" Uriel thundered. He grabbed the beacon and stormed out of the transport.
Mercuirion shot a look at Baeth who shrugged. The two followed the sorcerer out.
Uriel has cornered and snatched the vox from the marine assigned the rig.
"Pantheon's Might, respond!" He fiddled with the knobs of the machine. "Respond, this is ground team." His face twisted into a hideous mask of rage as he threw the unit against the ground.
"Nothing" He said pointlessly to Mercurion and Baeth. "What in the God's names is going on here?" he spat venomously.
Baeth and Mercurion subconsciously stepped back from the sorcerer. The last marine who had angered him was still being cleaned off the tactical deck by slaves.
Suddenly though, his rage disappeared. Baeth and Mercurion started, and had to do everything they could to stay at attention. Uriel was at his worst then he showed no emotion. However, it was clear that this was not the case. Uriel's eyes lit up like they did when he had some devilish idea.
"Hmm, now lets see if we're going to get some answers" he placed the beacon, which was now shaking with twisting nauseous symbols, on the ground.
Baeth edged back from it, perhaps out of caution. Even so, none of them had time to react when the marines stepped in from a rent in space itself.
The blue and yellow clad warriors marched as one, and their white unblinking eyes showed no signs of intelligence or life. The armor was old, almost crusades old, Mercurion noticed. None of the Arms of Horus spoke.
Who were these marines? Where they friend or foe? Mercurion wondered. Not a soul moved except for the blue and yellow clad giants who marched over to the drop pods to check the damage. A rusty metallic sound came from one of them. "The Ultramarines have been destroyed"
"Good" A new voice responded from the rent. A new marine, clearly some sort of officer, in ornate red and yellow armor, stepped from the rent. His foot falls met silence; the Arms of Horus looked to Uriel to see how to react. Thousand Sons, first blessed Uriel thought.
"You are thousand Sons?" Uriel asked, even though he knew the answer already. The new comer turned as if he were just aware of Uriel's existence. "Arms of Horus, just as planned, yes, this was foreseen. The Ultramarines have been killed by you ship, with a little help from us and our master. "
"Why has this happened…I don't understand…This was not in the prophesy. This is not what was expected.
"Expected?" Grumbled the giant, now standing in front of Uriel. He suddenly realized that his size was actually the same as his, but his presence…
"Expected? Ha! I ask you, Uriel, in a universe like ours, how can anything be expected?" Uriel stared blankly so the man continued. "How, in a universe where beast reign, where order and chaos war, where trillions of souls perish every day…what can be expected? In two universes as one, two sides of a coin, supposed to be whole, but where unimaginable entities squeeze their imprints on the curtain, how can anything truly be expected?"
There was silence for a moment. "I'm not sure I follow you…um" "My name isn't important. As you no doubt have realized, we are thousand sons and we are here, and we are here" He repeated.
Uriel has the suspicion that the marine was utterly mad.
In the background, Mercurion was still messing with the vox, fighting the static of the warp rupture, trying to make contact with their ship above.
"Would you like to know why we are here?" The figure asked. Uriel nodded dumbly. "The secret lies with Charlotte Rosa's body behind you, in that temple. That damned saint took it upon herself to steal one of our items, presumably so we couldn't use it. A relic actually does lie there, but it is not imperial, no, it belongs to the lord of change. The ultramarines intended to destroy it, and we could not let that happen. "
"Pantheon's Might, do you read me?"
"Unfortunately, we lack ships and are still recovering from the last ill fated crusade, so we borrowed one; your own. "
"…I think I got something, there's a signal" Mercurion said behind him.
"Deal with it yourself." He turned to the Thousand Son, now aware that there were at least ten others beside him, standing still.
"So you used our ship to somehow destroy the landing pods; what is this and how did you get it aboard?" he held up the beacon.
"You don't really need to know, but it is what you assumed it was; a psychic beacon. It was given to the ultramarine on his last assignment by the natives of the planet. Neither party knew it was a tool of chaos."
"hmm" Mercurion mused as Baeth stood uselessly over him. "…Here we go"
Static resounded through the site from the vox before it screamed an emergency signal, the crew member's last message. "Run before they kill you all!"
Everyone froze,"No one must know of this relic, too much hangs in the balance." The Thousand Sons sergeant quietly said before nodding to his marines. They opened fire at point blank range. Uriel could only stand and look in horror as his men were systematically gunned down.
The rest ran to their emplacements, as did Uriel, Baeth and Mercurion, the last two practically dragging their sorcerer. Uriel stared in horror at the Thousand Sons, their white glowing eyes, now somehow sinister beneath the blood red setting sun.
Mercurion gasped as the marine to his left was hit by an attacker's bullet and went down in one blow.
"There is sorcery at work here Uriel; these are no regular weapons that they employ!" He spun around cover and fired his bolter. The mass reactive shell exploded out of the gun, speeding to their target; a Thousand Son head. The attacker's helmet exploded in shatters, the armor fell to the ground, empty.
"it seems these are not even marines! They can be killed though!" Baeth yelled jovially as he fired at another, disabling one of its arms.
The stolen thunderfire cannon opened up fire for a second and Mercurion had a glint of hope. The huge gun sprayed the kill zone around the drop pods, stopping the Thousand Son advance.
The air became cold and Mercurion instinctively flung himself to the ground. Some eldritch energy flew over his head. The operator, spotter and gun itself vaporized, spraying Mercurion with spatter, turning his bright yellow armor, red.
The thousands Son's continued their advance. Mercurion saw another Arm of Horus fall from his firing position. They were being killed.
"Uriel, what in Horus's name are you doing? We have need of your talent!" He screamed as he dodged another volley from the Sons but…
The Sorcerer sat, unable to act, unable to move. He still could not comprehend why the Thousand Sons were killing them. He could not understand how his prophesy has gone so wrong. He could not act; he could not think. He could only stare as the men had worked with and fought with for centuries died around him. But even that made no emotion in him; he could not even feel, just stare silently and watch as his dreams of ascension and power crumbled like a sandcastle before the tides.
Baeth felt the shot go right through his pauldron and into and through his shoulder. He almost cried out in pain as the sorcerery infused round ripped aside his flesh. Instead, he blindly charged the Thousand Sons. He could feel burning around him; he was sure one of his arms was gone, but that was no hindrance. With rage born of the deepest hatred and strongest madness, Baeth smashed into their gunline.
Swinging his chainsword wildly around him with the one had he had left, he dispatched two of the marines and be headed a third. The helmet toppled off the marine's head revealing nothing underneath. The armor fell to the ground with a hollow metallic sound.
Baeth fought his was to t what he guessed to be the sergeant, the man who Uriel had talked to before. He was holding an odd looking staff of some sort, with an ancient symbol covered set of power armor.
However, as he smashed his way through the line, the sergeant caught his eye, raised his hand and…
Mercurion cried out in anger as he saw another Arm of Horus get gunned down. The marine had taken cover behind a column, but whatever ammo the Thousand Sons used made a mockery of the rockcrete, passing right through it and into the unfortunate marine behind it.
Mercurion's hatred was nothing compared to the rage he felt next. As he spun from behind cover to rake the closest marine with deadly bolter fire, he saw Baeth charge the sergeant.
The marine raised his hand and to Mercurion's horror, Baeth was engulfed in eldritch flames. Baeth stumbled backwards for a second before collapsing in a burnt heap of disfigured flesh and melted armor.
"No!" Mercurion screamed. He sprinted towards the man, his damaged power armor protesting. He raised his bolter to smite the accursed marine, who was clearly a sorcerer. The sorcerer responded with an expression that could only be interpreted as disappointment. He flung his staff out, and the air charged as Mercurion ran toward…
Uriel found himself amidst the end of a battle. He could only feel a handful of his men left, another falling as he registered the fact. He was free of whatever had fallen over him.
With his newly found consciousness, he could feel the air tingling; an enemy sorcerer. He looked up just in time to see Mercurion get ripped apart by a force of pure malevolent will. The two halves of his armor falling in bloody piles amid his fellow fallen comrades, gore spraying the Thousand Sons as they continued their inexorable and deadly advance.
Uriel turned his mind towards the enemy sorcerer, his mind enthralled with hatred. His attacks met a will so solid and tall that he could never dream of breaking it. However, this fact did not stop him from trying. In his efforts he didn't notice that he was the only Arm of Horus left.
Tongues of flames whipped around his body and flung themselves at the enemy sorcerer who batted away the attack like giant swatting a fly. Undaunted, he poured all of his malice and power into his power sword making it run with black flames, leaving a path of burnt stone and sand as he charged the sorcerer.
He barely noticed the other Thousand Sons dumbly moving out of his way, cutting off his escape . He swung his sword, intending to crush the life from the accursed man.
The enemy sorcerer merely grinned and faster than Uriel could respond, caught Uriel's sword in the hook of his staff. In one solid movement, he twisted the staff, wrenching the sword from Uriel's hands where it burnt and melted on the ground. Once this maneuver was done, the man expertly swung his staff around and caught Uriel in the back of the neck with it.
In one single instant, Uriel's eyes met the enemy sorcerer's; both men have no helmets on. In that instant Uriel saw the man's will in his eyes, and Uriel knew he was finished.
He hit the ground and found his power armor unresponsive. The sorcerer stood next to him, a slight frown across his exposed face.
"Hello again Uriel; I am almost upset. There are so very few times that psykers such as you and I get to converse with each other across petty boundaries like space, time, and sides of war… oh the things we could learn…But it is clear that you are no intelligent man. You sat sputtering while I killed your comrades, restrained only by the weakest of spells. You contain only reaction, only rage, and that is a pity."
"You asked what my name was? Ayumin-ka." He reached out his hand to Uriel who found that he could not move again. Ayumin-ka chuckled. "Your spine is severed. You'll never walk again, as you are.
"But,but my prophesy. I have foreseen many things under my faithful service to the gods, all of which came true without exception!"
"Psh, prophesies? Merely spotlights; little beams of light into the unknown that my master swims through like an aquamarine ocean. Where do you think they come from? Who provides them? My master."
"But it was wrong, that has never happened!" Uriel protested.
"…You are a sad stupid little man, and you have my pity for that. But fine; your prophesy was false? Was it? Tell me, what did you see? No wait. Let me tell you: Drop pods falling from the sky with the ultramarine emblem, cries of pain anguish, etcetera etcetera…" he listed as Uriel gasped.
"How…how did you know?"
"It is amazing our puny race hasn't died out yet with people like you being the future…and we are supposed to be the champions of it…how stupid we are; I suppose we made our own mistakes in our time…the flames of Prospero, oh how I wish there had been another way…" He started drawing symbols on Uriel's power armor.
"You mind putting this on? Of course not…ha ha" he placed a helmet on Uriel's head and continued drawing symbols on Uriel's armor as he spoke.
"Your prophesy wasn't wrong, just subjective. First, you assumed it was about, intended for you…it was not. Second, you assumed it was the whole prophesy…it was not. Even I don't believe I received the full thing, Tzeentch's dreams are so peculiar" Uriel would have shivered at the mention of the Great One's name if he was able.
"Third and most important, like I said before, it wasn't wrong. The ultramarine drop ships didfall from the atmosphere; dropped off by a battle barge your ship had no chance in attacking. There was a battle; troops were mercilessly slaughtered in a surprise attack…" He finished the symbols.
"but what about the victor…" Uriel stopped as he realized his fate.
"That was true also." Ayumin-ka said as he raised his bolt pistol.
In the red light of the sunset, surrounded by the collapsed pillars of an ancient temple, Ayumin-ka slowly majestically raised his bolt pistol. "Time to die"
The shot rang out. The other thousand sons stared at Uriel's body and circled around it.
"And of course you missed the best part Uriel! I'm sure my master has use for you, what, even I don't know…"
He raised his staff, and in a moment of power seldom seen in the 41st millennium, Uriel rose with it, his eyes glowing white as his body disintegrated within his power armor.