Better late than never, eh?
I mean, the bases aren’t done yet, and it’s actually the first of February, but there’s paint on all of ’em.
Time to put a Daemon Prince together, I reckon. He’ll be my character model for February: the rest of the month’s hobby time will go into doing proper bases on everyone, putting some paint on some Frostgrave Gnolls for Squaduary, and hopefully getting some games in with a local lad who’s into his Dark Angels. We have this part-baked idea of going through the Dark Vengeance campaign, as a way of wrapping our heads around what’s still a ‘new’ edition to us both (he hasn’t played since fifth, I knocked off toward the end of sixth).
I’m not sure how well that’ll work with the skeletal backstory I have in mind. In the spirit of WIP Wednesday, allow me to drop what I have so far in the form of some unfinished flash-fiction. If it doesn’t quite hold together that’s because I haven’t quite joined it up, but I’m sure the gist will be apparent.
Tar Zahaan could have been a statue – a hulking ceramite statue, a midnight gargoyle standing sentinel over the Sixty-Fourth Company – save for his face. The Praetor wore no helm; his heavy, thin-skinned face announced his contempt for hazard and adversary alike.
“Treachery, chaplain? From you? I thought you the best of these scum.”
“We’re all traitors here, are we not? We all followed you down, after Istvaan.”
“You might have said something at the time.” Tar Zahaan snorted, still unmoving, though vox-clicks from behind suggested his Atramentar were at arms.
“At the time I thought you were right. I thought we’d kept the faith. I thought the Truth was with us and the Imperium had lost sight. Now I don’t know what to believe.”
“And this is my fault?”
“You’ve led us to destruction. You who are supposed to be our exemplar. This can’t stand.” Szandor thumbed the back of his pistol for luck, feeling it charge. “I challenge you – ”
“Don’t insult me, Szandor! You don’t stand a chance. Sergeant Garathor!”
One of Tar Zahaan’s guards stirred, racked his combi-bolter with the telltale heavy click, took aim. Szandor’s hand shook; spasmed; whipped the pistol from his belt and clenched around the trigger.
The world went white. The pistol had backfired in Szandor’s hand, and now pistol and hand were gone. Ceramite armour, flesh and bone had gone with it, flayed to fire and atoms and dust in an instant. Szandor stared at the cauterised ruin of his forearm. There was a moment’s terrible silence, and then his crozius fell from his right hand. Bolt shells struck him in the left leg, where the hastily-wrought plates of his Mark V armour were weakest. The detonations tore ceramite and cable and sinew, and Szandor began to laugh, a high hysterical laughter without end or sanity in it. He tumbled to his knees in the gritty winter’s dust, laughing, and he was still laughing when the first blow took him in the back of the head, and he knew no more.
“You shot me.”
Garathor looked down at his brother. Szandor, the younger, had been the smaller before the change took them; next to Garathor’s Terminator armour, he seemed little more than a boy.
“To save you. Tar Zahaan trusted me to slay you. You’re only here because I disobeyed him.”
Szandor nodded. He flexed the fingers of his left hand, felt servos purr and pneumatics hiss; his left knee had largely healed of its own accord, thick Astartes blood and gene-hanced cells clotting and stitching even as he’d been dragged from the drop site.
“What happens now? I presume you don’t intend to kill me.”
“I could never. Your… betrayal… changes nothing, but you’re not safe. Tar Zahaan leads what’s left of the Sixty-Fourth now, and he wants you dead.”
Szandor scowled. “Tar Zahaan’s survival is an omen, I’m sure of it. Some Power higher than any of us spared him. The Imperial Truth is dust in my mouth, and without it… ” He shrugged his shoulders, balled his augmetic hand into a fist, and sighed. “I’m leaving. I’ll stain my hands and go.”
“In search of that Power that defies all reason, all hope. Maybe, when I understand why Tar Zahaan must live and our Legion brothers die in droves… maybe then I can come back.”
“Ashilla sorsollun… ashilla uthullun…”
Light came back slowly, but still too fast for Nostraman eyes. Szandor found himself blinking. How long had he been in the chamber? He almost laughed. Might as well ask ‘how long is forever?’
His mentor stood over him, one hand loosely clutching his staff and the other resting on Szandor’s shoulder.
“I don’t recognise that. What have you been talking to?”
“My apologies. I must have been feeling homesick.”