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«The Horus Heresy. The Flight Of The Elsenstein», James Swallow

 

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

The Primarchs

HORUS Warmaster and Commander of the Sons of Horus Legion

ROGAL DORN Primarch of the Imperial Fists

MORTARION Primarch of the Death Guard

The Death Guard

NATHANIEL GARRO Battle-Captain of the 7th Company

IGNATIUS GRULGOR Commander of the 2nd Company

CALAS TYPHON First Captain

ULLIS TEMETER Captain of the 4th Company

ANDUS HAKUR Veteran Sergeant, 7th Company

MERIC VOYEN Apothecary, 7th Company

TOLLEN SENDER 7th Company

PYR RAHL 7th Company

SOLUN DECIUS 7th Company

KALEB ARIN Housecarl to Captain Garro

Other Space Marines

SAUL TARVITZ First Captain of the Emperor's Children

IACTON QRUZE, 'THE HALF-HEARD' Captain, 3rd Company, Sons of Horus

SIGISMUND First Captain, Imperial Fists

Non-Astartes Imperials

MALOGHURST 'THE TWISTED' Equerry to the Warmaster

AMENDERA KENDEL Oblivion Knight, Storm Dagger Witchseeker Squad

MALCADOR The Sigillite, Regent of Terra

KYRIL SINDERMANN Primary iterator

MERSADIE OLITON Remembrancer, documentarist

EUPHRATI KEELER 'The New Saint'; remembrancer

BARYK CARYA Shipmaster of the frigate Eisenstein

RACEL VOUGHT Executive officer of the frigate Eisenstein

TIRIN MAAS Vox officer of the frigate Eisenstein

PART ONE. THE BLINDED STAR

'If the sole trait these Astartes share in common with we mere mortal masses is their bond of brotherhood, then one must dare to ask the question - if that were lost to them, what would they become?'

- attributed to the remembrancer Ignace Karkasy

"We are the voice and the clarion call; We are tyrant's ruin and rival's fall.'

- from the battle mantra of the Dusk Raiders

'As with men so it is with silk; it is difficult to change their colours once they have been set!

- attributed to the ancient Terran warlord Mo Zi

ONE

Assembly

A Fine Sword

Death Lord

IN THE VOID, the vessels gathered. Shifting gently in the silent darkness, the crenellated hulls and great ornate shapes appeared as a congregation of Gothic edifices, cathedral-wrought in their complexity, drifting as if torn from the surface of worlds and carved into warships. Great sculpted bows filigreed into arrow points turned, stately and lethal, to face into the dark on a uniform heading. Torches burned on some, in apparent defiance of the airless vacuum. Plasma fires trailed white-orange streams of turbulent gas from chimneys along the kilometres of gunmetal hulls. These beacons were lit only when conflict was in the moment. The flares of wasteful, daring heat they generated were signs to the enemy.

We bring the light of illumination to you.

The craft that rode at the head of the flotilla was cut from steel the shade of a stormy sky, with a prow sheathed in dark ocean green. It moved as a

slow dagger might in the hand of a patient killer, inescapable, inexorable. It bore little in the way of ornament. The ship's only decorations were martial in nature, etchings on the plough-blade bow in letters the height of a man, long lines of text that recalled an age of battles fought, worlds visited, opponents lain to wreckage. Her only adornments of any note were two-fold: a golden spread eagle with two heads across the face of the flying bridge and a great icon made of heavy nickel-iron ore, a single stone skull set inside a hollow steel ring in the shape of a star, at the very lip of the spiked blade, watchful and threatening.

More ships fell into line behind her, taking up a formation that mirrored the spear tip battle-patterns of the warriors that were her payload. In echo of the unbreakable resolve of those fighters, the warship proudly bore a name in High Gothic script across her iron hull: Endurance.

Behind her came more of her kind, ranging in class and size both larger and smaller: the Indomitable Will, Barbarus's Sting, Lord of Hyrus, Terminus Est, Undying, Spectre of Death and others.

This was the fleet that gathered beyond the umbra of the sun Iota Horologii, in order to bring the Great Crusade and the will of the Emperor of Man to one of the gargantuan cylinder worlds of the jorgall. Carried in their thousands aboard the ships that served their Legion, the instruments of that will were to be the Astartes of the XIV Legion, the Death Guard.

KALEB ARIN MOVED through the corridors of the Endurance in a swift dance of motion, holding his heavy cloth-wrapped burden to his chest. Years of indentured service had bred in him a way of walking

and behaving that rendered him virtually hidden in plain sight around the towering forms of the Astartes. He was adept at remaining beneath their notice. To this day, even with so many years of duty glittering in the dull rivets fixed to his collarbone, Kaleb had not lost the keen awe at being among them that had filled him from the moment he had bent his knee to the XIV Legion. The lines on his pale face and the grey-white of his hair showed his age, but still he carried himself with the vitality of a man much younger. The strength of his conviction - and of other, more privately held ones - had carried him on in willing, unflinching servitude.


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