In Beauty & Flame – Part 1.
“Rise, Tu’Shen. Through battle… I have you as my vengeant and seeker. In fire and adamantium… you are reforged as my weapon.” – He’Stan to Tu’Shen. The awakening.
The words of his lord ran through his mind, as Tu’Shen studied the holo-map before him. “… you are reforged as my weapon”. Those words would never leave him, for as long as fire burned within his soul. He was a Salamander. A drake among other space marine. Through flame, he was duty bound. He stood as a titan among his brethren, whom all watched as grids of information flickered on a projected screen of light. It was a map of the planet below. An estimated outlay of where their duty would lead them next. Coordinates flashed in red blips, highlighting the target zone of planet fall.
They were eight in total, Tu’Shen and his Primaris. They adorned the jade-green power armour of their chapter, embellished with the insignia of the drake. Cloaks of scale, ancient and regal, fell across the shoulders of the superhuman warriors. Each space marine was the equal of a hundred men, but a Primaris… a Primaris was so much more so.
It was his lord, Vulkan He’Stan, that had bestowed upon Tu’Shen the gifts of the Primaris. He was faster. Stronger. Adaptable. Better armed and armoured than he had ever been… but it had not come without cost. “In fire and adamantium… you are reforged as my weapon.” Those words ran through his mind once again. He would never forget his duty. It was an honour, and an honour he would never fail to upkeep. He was chosen by He’Stan as seeker of relics and redeemer of the lost. It was that duty that had led him to that part of the star system.
Heavy footfalls fell behind Tu’Shen. Servos whirred in ancient armour, augmenting every movement, as adamantium met adamantium. The captain needed not turn his attention to his newly joined battle brother, as the superimposed data-display in his helm displayed all he needed to know in his visor.
“Greetings, Tryon’Sal. I trust you rested well. We are fast approaching our target. Are your brothers prepared?” Tu’Shen addressed his librarian with authority, his voice stern but unimposing. Tryon’Sal was Tu’Shens most trusted advisor and leader of a large contingent of his force. As a wielder of psychic energy and the arcane mysteries of the warp, he was the embodiment of flame and could harness the element at his every whim and desire.
“We are always prepared, my captain. We are your hand and will.” The Librarian responded, his hand in open palm against his chest, placed between his two beating hearts. He was human once. A human recognised for his abilities and swiftly claimed by the Salamander chapter. It was then that he was genetically altered, and biologically rebuilt into the space marine that stood before his captain.
Tu’shen finally broke his concentration from the holo-screen before him, and skimmed the room with an attentive gaze, his visor shimmering with an ice-blue glow as it met each of his warriors. He needed not utter a word. He knew they were ready. Each would die in an instant for him. Not through fear. Not through the recognition of authority… No… They would die for him through the indomitable respect they had for their captain.
As one, they spoke… “We are your hand and will.”
Through the void of space, between dust and star, on the seemingly barren planet below….
Xur’ain bore into his own gaze, reflected by one of the many mirrors that graced the walls of his throne room. For a creature of such malice, he was beauty personified in chiselled cheek and ruby lips. He knew it. He of himself above all else. No. He knew of himself above all else. But beneath that beauty was something truly terrible. A rage. A rage that smothered stars and suns alike. A rage that leaked through cracks of temperament and from the corner of a quivering smirk. Long black hair fell to his shoulders, licking in tendrils across his newly adorned armour. A blood red carapace formed of bone and bound by flayed flesh. He was ready for battle. He knew of what was to come. They knew of what was to come. It was a gift of his kind. Prescience in blood and entrail. They were the Drukhari. Expert raiders and pirates of the stars. Cruel. Skilled. Remorseless.
“My Archon…” A voice echoed in the cavernous chamber. It began before being abruptly halted by nothing more than a raised hand from Xur.
“Am I not magnificent?” He spoke, his voice distinct and precise, like the tip of a finely crafted vibro-spear, thrust with the skill of a Drukhari warrior.
Xur’ain turned to face the one that would brave storming into his chamber. It would take one that was incredibly brave… or more so stupid. He approached them slowly, his footsteps silent and his every movement graceful. He recognised the armoured figure as one his retinue, although could not quite recall the name of one so insignificant. She wasn’t scared, this Xur was sure of. The Drukhari rarely knew of fear. Xur knew the scent well. That sickly sweet aroma that brought him to euphoric bliss. No, she wasn’t scared… but all the same had realised her folly. A folly born of a warrior’s instinct, in place of the realisation of her master’s instability.
“Am… I… not… Magnificent?” Xur’ain repeated, this time his words curled around flickers of rage. It was uncontrollable. Inevitable. It was a thing sparked by the unpredictable.
She didn’t bother to respond this time. The words to a contradictory outcome did not exist. She simply raised her head to her Archon, bearing her throat for what was to come. She had accepted her fate. Nothing was seen but the flash of blade from unseen sheathe. Deadly and precise, a blade practised for centuries. Blood. Splendorous red entwined beautiful pain. He bathed in it. The blood and the pain. Her lifeforce was now his. It painted his flesh scarlet. His youthful, immortal flesh.
Xur’ain left his chambers, slickened with the fresh blood of his meaningless kill. Exactly whom he’d expected was there waiting for him. They were bowed. Knees to stone floor. Heads down. Eyes unseeing. They were his remaining retinue. They would die for him. Through fear, they would die for him. Their armour gleamed as red as his own. Rotting heads of the slain adorned trophy racks upon their shoulders. Together, they were masters of the hunt and swift combat. They were the Kabal of the flayed skull. They didn’t raise their heads to speak. But as one, they spoke…
“They come, my lord. In flame, they come.”
Xur’ain thought for but a moment. With pointed tongue, he savoured the iron tang of fresh blood on his blade before replying… “Then in beauty… they shall fall.”
To be continued…
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