Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard "Wiki"

Ave Omnissiah!

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My blog is primarily my own personal fluff in the Warhammer 40,000 universe regarding the Draconis system such as the Knight House Yato in Draconis III, the Imperial Guard...I mean, Astra Militarum regiment trained there, the Draconian Armored Defenders, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood, Cybernetica cohorts and Skitarii legions, and the Titan Legion, Legio Draconis, known as the Dark Dragons.

Featured Post

Horus Heresy Janus Campaign

I had a great weekend at the Horus Heresy Weekender, which was organized by the Frozen North Horus Heresy group - thanks to all the organize...

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Advent of the Warmaster Titan

 
The Warmaster Titan looks amazing! Warhammer Community has seen fit to reveal more about him. We even have a crazy command terminal for the big guy.


Depending on your loadout, your Warmaster Titan might cost well over a thousand points. This is huge, for it means you're only likely to have one Warmaster Titan per battlegroup. Since you can only take one per Titan Maniple. I don't know how it will work for Knight Household Armies. I suspect you can only take one Warmaster Titan per Knight Lance? Makes no sense that we can't use a Wamaster Titan with Knight Household Armies.

Anyway, the Warmaster has some sweet weapons. They are mostly plasma too, which fits Draconis IV's specialization. Being the second Ryza, Draconis IV manufactures tons of plasma weapons. I can't wait to see how they will unleash a storm of plasma on the enemy. That will be amazing!


Just look at the Suzerain class plasma destructors! A whooping Strength 11! What the hell?! And if I drain the reactors, it will have the Fusion trait, which will be devastating against other Titans at close range. Whoa! That's not to mention using Maximal Fire for Strength 13 plasma shots!

Then you have the Revelator missile launcher for carapace weapons, and it only has 4 warheads, apparently. ordnance is cool, as is Concussive, especially against Knights. Not bad.


Okay? But what interests me is the shoulder mounted weapons. That's a lot of options! You have six different shoulder mounted weapons to choose from!


If it were up to me, I'll go ham on the plasma and arm my Warmaster with plasma blastguns. Plasma destructors and plasma blastguns. It's essentially the Leman Russ Executioner tanks that Draconis IV are famous for manufacturing (the Draconian Defenders field columns of Leman Russ Executioner tanks equipped with plasma cannon sponsons). An all-plasma Warmaster Titan, marching above my Lances of Imperial Knights. I want to try that in the Horus Heresy event in April!

There's also the Ancillary reactor system, from which we have two to choose from.

Needless to say, I'm going for the Infusive Supercoolant because I'll probably be firing my plasma weapons a lot. At maximal fire, no less.

Anyway, I wonder if we will ever get an Imperator Titan. Now that would be awesome.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Way of the Warrior 2

 The spiked projectiles hammered against the glimmering ion shield that emanated over my Armiger Warglaive, causing the particles to cascade violently. Encased within my Helm Mechanicum, my fingers twitched within my haptic gloves and my mechanical steed responded fluidly to my will. Its torso pivoted and a searing light of molten energy lanced out of my thermal spear.

My target hissed as part of its massive serpentine body was incinerated. The incandescent beam, which was capable of melting through thick adamantine armor, simply disintegrated organic matter. The orochi writhed in agony, the two halves of its body flopping about. Without any hesitation, I had my Armiger Warglaive end its misery by stomping on its head.

Whirling about, I activated the disruptive power field around the reaper chain-cleaver and caught a second orochi by the throat before it could crash against my machine. Flicking my haptic gloves, I sawed through the orochi's neck and decapitated it in a single stroke. The thirty-meter long serpent flopped onto the ground, its jaws still snapping open and shut in its death throes.

I bade my knight to step over its carcass, the carapace-mounted meltagun whirring about as it tracked a third target. Another thermal beam lanced outward, burning off a few emerald scales. The orochi snarled and lunged at me, but I obliterated its head with a blast from my thermal spear.

"These make for poor sport," Yamazaki Sousuke remarked. His Armiger Warglaive loped from the opposite direction. A second beam of molten energy flared, spearing another orochi before it could slither away. I could hear the disapproval in my fellow bondsman's voice. "How did it go on your end, Tanaka?"

"Clear," I replied. "I've eliminated the three orochi in this area."

"Hah! I took out five."

I didn't respond to that. This wasn't a competition. It was the duty of the Knights of House Yato to exterminate the orochi and other gigantic monsters that roamed the verdant forests of Draconis III, to protect the farmers and civilians from the ravages of ferocious beasts. The ayakashi, as we termed them, usually grew to immense sizes. The orochi was among the worst of them, slithering across agricultural fields to devour entire farmhouses. They showed up in swarms and made for good sport. Normally, a single knight would be dispatched, along with his retainers - in other words, us bondsmen.

I was curious as to why Lord Takeda Takumi, the Daimyo of the Kai Province, had decided to take upon this onerous duty today. Normally, the orochi would be assigned to lower-ranking knights, but Lord Takeda had wanted to hunt. From his enthusiasm, I gathered that it was not simply orochi that infested this forest.

There were tremors and the thunderous clanking of gears and servos to my left. Consulting the hololithic pictscreen that displayed an external view, I turned my mechanical steed around and spotted Lord Takeda's Questoris class Knight Errant stomping over. The Ryuugiri - or Dragon Slayer in Gothic - sported a thermal cannon, a larger and more powerful melta-class variant of the thermal spears mounted upon our Armiger class knights.

Not that I was complaining. Yamazaki and I were both simple retainers, in the servitude of a Daimyo as highly ranked and regarded as Lord Takeda. The Takeda clan had served the Shogun and House Yato for generations, and they had accumulated an incredible amount of prestige. Soon, Lord Takeda would be called to the war among the stars, and we retainers would accompany him.

I wondered what it would be like to travel across the galaxy, transported to warzones where the Knights of House Yato would fight for glory and honor, to uphold our oaths to the Imperium and the Heavenly Emperor. It was the dream of every Draconian warrior to participate in such wars, to earn a reputation not just in the Draconis Sector but throughout the Imperium itself.

"We will be moving deeper into the Mori Forest," Lord Takeda ordered over the vox without preamble. He turned his Questoris chassis about and marched inward without waiting for an acknowledgement from either of us. I glanced at the holo-pict displaying Yamazaki's Armiger and shrugged despite knowing that the Daimyo's other retainer couldn't see me. Yamazaki muttered something on a private channel, but I ignored him. He turned his Armiger around to accompany the intimidating Knight Errant, while I spread out and took the opposite flank.

"My lord?" I asked when my master brought his steed to a halt. "What is the matter?"

"The forest...not everything is as it seems. The inhabitants appear to be disturbed by something."

"The ayakashi?" I asked, wondering if there were more of these warp-born beasts hiding somewhere. "More of the orochi, perhaps?"

"No. Not the orochi." Lord Takeda's voice was tense. "There's something else in here...something more ferocious and insidious. I can sense it."

At that time, I didn't understand how he was able to perceive the malevolent presence, but later when I was raised through the ranks, I realized that he must have heard the agitated whispers of the long-dead warriors who resided in his Throne Mechanicum. Often, when the venerable machine-spirit of the bigger Knights sensed something amiss, the souls within the Throne Mechanicum would lend their wisdom to the current pilot, urging caution.

There was a loud crash, and I spotted a cluster of trees being uprooted and toppling over. I caught a glimpse of something massive slithering over it. At first, I thought it might be an orochi, but then I realized that it was far larger than those thirty-meter long snakes.

"At last..." I could hear the excitement in Lord Takeda's voice. "A worthy prey."

"That's...that's the Yamata no Orochi," Yamazaki whispered, his voice filled with dread.

With a bellow, the titanic ayakashi emerged from the forest, leveling trees and flattening foliage. Stretching over a hundred meters in length, its eight serpentine heads writhed about, each of them focusing on something else. Three of the heads were watching our small lance carefully, tracking our movements.

"My lord..." Yamazaki was unable to conceal his fear. "We must fall back. We cannot defeat the Yamata no Orochi by ourselves."

Inwardly, I agreed with my fellow bondsman. Known as the king of the orochi, the titanic Yamata no Orochi was capable of devastating entire lances by itself. Standard doctrine stated that to combat a Yamata no Orochi, we would require at least three full lances, including a single Dominus Knight Castellan.

However, Lord Takeda was in no mood to call for reinforcements.

"This glory is mine," he declared.

"I must advise against this course of action, my lord," I said.

"Your advice is noted, Tanaka. Now follow me. Dragon Slayer Formation."

Neither Yamazaki nor I was happy about this, but we had been trained to obey our lord. Almost as if in reflex, our Armiger Knights spread out on either side of Ryuugiri's flank. Coordinating through our Helm Mechanicum, we fired a volley of incadescent beams, the trio of thermal lances converging upon one of the central heads of the approaching Yamata no Orochi. There was a blazing flash and the head recoiled, its scales melting. However, it remained intact.

One of the eight tails lashed out, catching Ryuugiri by the arm and sending the super-heavy machine spinning to the ground. I heard a curse from Lord Takeda over the vox, my master sounding winded. Automatically, I moved my Armiger forward at the same time as the other heads. A second tail slammed down on Ryuugiri, knocking it flat onto the ground, and then curled around the super-heavy walker. It began crushing it physically, causing sparks to fly.

"No...!" Lord Takeda growled. He was trying to activate his reaper chainsword, the glowing power field sheathing its whirring blade. However, the Yamata no Orochi continued to tighten its stranglehold, preventing the noble from bringing his deadly weapon to bear.

"Hold on, my lord!" I took aim and let loose a thick beam from the thermal spear, striking the tail several meters away from the Daimyo's steed. The emerald scales glowed and began to melt, but the Yamata no Orochi held strong. Several of the heads snarled at me before lunging forward, but I was already driving my Armiger forward at a sprint.

While the carapace meltagun spat deadly volleys at the head in an attempt to keep them back, I reached Lord Takeda's position. Bringing my reaper chain-cleaver down, I sawed upon the injured portion of the tail. The scales had half-melted from the tremendous heat, softened by the shot from my thermal spear. Still glowing hot from my earlier assault, the flesh gave way underneath my melee weapon. There was a screech of pain, and the tail suddenly withdrew, almost knocking my steed to its back.

"Thank you, Tanaka," Lord Takeda grunted as he swiped at the retreating tail with his glowing reaper chainsword, taking out a big chunk of flesh and scales in the process. Then his voice rose in alarm. "Watch out!"

I didn't have time to react. The other heads that had been pursuing me earlier had finally reached me, smacking the back of my Armiger Knight and sending it flying. I felt a sense of vertigo as my Knight tumbled forward, crashing into trees and toppling them. My Helm Mechanicum went dark and I slumped against my seat, feeling blood trickle down my face. If it weren't for the harness that pinned me to my seat, I would most probably have been thrown about in my cockpit.

Clenching my haptic gloves into fists, I groaned and fought to bring my machine back to life. There was a deafening thud that wrenched my Knight about and I jerked about in my seat. Several of the systems had yet to come back online, but somehow I knew my weapons still worked. I squeezed a trigger with one of my haptic gloves almost subconsciously, blindly releasing another devastating thermal beam, while my other hand dictated a desperate slash with the reaper chain-cleaver. I felt satisfaction when I perceived something yielding before my attacks, as well as the piercing shriek that somehow penetrated the adamantium walls around me to ram against my eardrums.

There was another smack and my Armiger Knight careened once more. My head struck something and I knew nothing more as darkness consumed me.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Warmaster Titan

 
So the Warhammer Community preview that we have all been waiting for has finally revealed the Titan from the Rumor Engine. It's the Warmaster Titan, equipped with twin plasma destructors! It's bigger than even the Warlord Titan!


So...is he different from the Imperator Titan? Will we ever get the Imperator Titan, or is the Warmaster a variant of the Imperator? I dunno. But at least those guys complaining about Adeptus "Knightanicus" can finally stop whining about not getting any new Titans, heh.

Oh, and we are also finally getting a new book for Loyalist Titan Legions and Knight Houses! I need to get this!


If you're on the side of Traitors, don't worry, you'll get your own book later this year!

Friday, January 22, 2021

More painting

 I've been very busy the past week searching for a new room or apartment because my current landlord plans to sell his house. That means I have to move out, and even though the pandemic means I can't go out, I still plan to move into a place near Dreamers Vault at Hiawatha. So I've been searching for an affordable place to live in that is also close by. Being a student, it is easy to find a cheap place, but the problem is that they are usually...uh, how do I put it, crowded. I don't think I'll be able to live in a place with 8 people, not when I spend most of my time writing, reading and studying (that's where the rest of my time has gone to when I'm not looking for a new place).

Otherwise I would have written another story for my Imperial Knight house. Sigh. Oh, well. We'll see if I have the time this weekend, but because of other commitments, I most likely don't. But I did manage to paint my models (should I devote my time to writing a story or to painting models?), so there you go.

I finally painted the base for my Dominus Knight Castellan, and pasted a few shrubs so that he wouldn't look so plain. I also painted my Forgefiend, making him a Thousand Sons daemon engine (well, he looks Black Legion, but he also has a mix of Thousand Sons blue). The joke is that Ignatius (my Thousand Sons Sorcerer in Terminator armor) stole a bunch of daemon engines from the Black Legion, and didn't bother to paint them over. Yeah, that's kind of funny, ha ha. I think.

Not just the Forgefiend, but I also painted my Serberys Sulfurhounds. Now I have 6 of them (there's only 4, but the other 2 are in my box - I just took one of the original three out so that I can have some reference when painting the new trio). Yay! 2 squads of Serberys Sulfurhounds running about, breathing fire and setting foul xenos, heretics and hereteks ablaze. They will forge ahead of my Knights and other Skitarii, breaking lines and crashing into enemy formations. Hopefully they will deal with swarms and hordes. Meanwhile, my Knights take care of the armor and bigger stuff.

So yeah. If I have time during the weekend, I'll write the next chapter for Way of the Warrior, otherwise I'll have to keep looking for a new place. Oh, well...

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Partially painted Models

 Phew, I finally got down to painting my Dominus Knight Castellan. He looks much better now! Then I forgot to paint the base. Stupid of me. Oh well, I'll paint the base some other day. But at least he looks a lot more...colorful than before. Yay.

I also painted the weapon arms for my Questoris Knights - a las-impulsor and a thermal cannon. So now I can swap out the weapons and turn my Questoris Knight into a Knight Preceptor! Yay! Originally, i was supposed to have 2 Knight Preceptors (2 las-impulsors), but the ebay seller from whom I bought the bits for the las-impulsor messed up and sent me two identical sides for the cannon. Needless to say, I couldn't complete the las-impulsor and I'll probably have to wait until the seller sends a replacement (if he or she agrees to). But I'm looking forward to getting a second las-impulsor - not because I need them to buff my Armigers (I don't have many except the two Armiger Moirax). Actually, it's because I prefer laser weapons and energy weapons, which is why I still have the thermal cannons. I don't want my Knights to run out of ammunition in the middle of combat (though they probably have to charge their plasma reactors often).

I can't wait to see how my Knight Preceptors and Knight Castellan play on the tabletop. Damn pandemic is ruining everything, which sucks. But the day will come when I will finally get to field them.

Oh, and I also built a second unit of Obliterators, so I now have 2 units of 2 Obliterators each. They are meant for my Thousand Sons...wait, what? Thousand Sons don't have Obliterators? Damn. Never mind, I'll just play them as part of an allied Spearhead Detachment, most likely from the Word Bearers or something. I still have my Dark Apostle - lovely model, that guy. And the Venomcrawler at the back. This will be fun. A Dark Apostle leading four Obliterators and relying on the Venomcrawler to buff his summons. Actually, I meant to run the Dark Apostle as a Master of Possessions, so yeah. And if I run them as Word Bearers, I can summon the Lord of Change at the back. Hell, yeah! Summoning Thousand Sons! I prefer to have my Thousand Sons summon the Lord of Change themselves, but the Word Bearers' Stratagem is a lot more reliable, especially for a Greater Daemon as powerful as a Lord of Change.

As for my Thousand Sons themselves, I painted a Forgefiend partially. I only painted the gold on him for now, I'll need to refer to my other Forge Fiends for a better color scheme, but he at least looks better now than before.

Still not done yet, but at least I'm halfway there!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Aligheran Crusade resupplies

 Marshal Mowbray of the Black Templars watched from the bridge as the flagship of his tattered fleet, the battle barge Sigismund's Wrath, pull into the orbital docks circling the forge world of Draconis IV. Despite the visible signs of wear and tear, great gouges torn out of drifting battleships from sustained volleys of macro-cannons and cauterized blisters from lances, the Black Templars fleet remained a formidable sight.

Five battle barges, eleven strike cruisers and twenty-eight escorts.

"We had one hell of a harvest," Castellan Claudio remarked beside Mowbray. The marshal nodded, glancing at his second-in-command from the corner of his eye. Like him, Claudio's ornate MKX armor had signs of wear and tear, but the power sword sheathed by his side remained unblemished.

"The casualties were massive this time," Mowbray finally said with a sigh. "We captured two battle barges, five strike cruisers and a dozen escort ships...but at almost the cost of all the non-Primaris."

"It was sheer bad luck," Claudio murmured, his eyes lowered. "We should have known that the Word Bearers would resort to despicable means."

Mowbray closed his eyes, still recalling the bellows of rage and defiance over the vox during that last battle. The Black Templars had descended upon an orbital shipyard circling the daemon forge world of Malevolvis, and stolen the vessels that the Dark Mechanicum had constructed for the Word Bearers. The twisted priests of the Dark Mechanicum, along with the Dark Apostles and Masters of Possession of the heretic legion, were conducting rituals to bind daemons of the warp to the machine spirits of the recently completed ships, but the Black Templars and their allies had hit them hard before they could finish the rituals, banishing the daemons back to the warp and making their way off Malevolvis with almost all the ships that the Dark Mechanicum had built. They had lost some and scuttled a few that they couldn't capture, but no doubt the Word Bearers' wrath would fall upon them sometime in future.

Unfortunately, the Heretic Astartes would have no fleet with which they could chase the fleeing Black Templars with. Marshal Mowbray's fist tightened. He would have ordered an orbital bombardment of Malevolvis and the destruction of its vile orbital shipyard, but the accursed IV Legion had shown up shotly after they captured the ships. The fleet of the Iron Warriors had harried and pounded them as they fled, and though the Black Templars gave as good as they got, they were forced to retreat.

"Honestly, if it weren't for the Knights of House Yato and their Draconian auxiliaries, we might not have pulled it off. The tech-priests of the Mechanicus too...they provided the servitor-crew and experts we needed to man the captured vessels."

"Indeed." Mowbray agreed with Claudio's assessment. The noble Knghts of House Yato had been an indispensable presence, carving a route of devastation when they boarded the orbital shipyards and massacring the cultist slave-gangs and distorted cybernetic monstrosities of the Dark Mechanicum without impunity. Their Draconian auxiliaries, clad in void armor and riding in Taurox Prime APCs, had seized portions of the shipbuilding facilities in short order, occupying the target locations that the Black Templars had blown through only moments before.

For mere mortals, the so-called Kamikaze Troopers of Draconis III had fought like men possessed. The Black Templars couldn't help but be impressed by their tenacity and discipline.

However, the bulk of firepower still came from the Knights, who sawed through bulkheads and sealed hatches with their reaper chainswords and massacred corrupted Skitarii and monstrous cybernetic servitors. As befitting the Dark Mechanicum, there were a few daemon engines, which the Knights easily dispatched. Of course, the Black Templars still bore the brunt of most of the fighting, their bolter shells detonating within the hybrid bodies of flesh and metal, and slicing a bloody swathe through traitor Skitarii cohorts.

Then...Castellan Constantine's Fighting Company encountered the detachment of Word Bearers stationed within the shipyard.

Unlike the purely Primaris Fighting Company under Marshal Mowbray's command, Castellan Constantine's Fighting Company was composed solely of the so-called firstborn Space Marines. Unlike the Primaris Space Marines, Constantine continued to develop his neophytes through the traditional methods. Since they had proven their worth time and time again, Mowbray had not objected, and even welcomed Constantine's company as part of his Crusade.

Their zeal and ferocity had saved the day once more, Constantine leading his company to cut through the Word Bearers' stubborn defenses. As it turned out, the company of Heretic Astartes guarding that part of the platform were merely sentries. The core of the Word Bearers Host had been residing deeper within the vault, conducting a foul ritual.

Within moments of butchering the sentries, the Word Bearers completed their horrifying ritual and opened a portal to the warp. Daemons had flooded out, swarming the beleaguered Black Templars company and cutting them apart to a man. Even so, Constantine had his warriors stand strong and hold the near limitless numbers of daemons back, using the vault as a chokepoint to channel them into killing zones and contain the swarms that would have exited and overrun the entire shipyard.

They were heroes, all. But Constantine's company had paid a terrible price, and by the time they retreated to the last captured strike cruiser, now christened Constantine's Defiance, in honor of the feat he had accomplished in holding a relentless tide of daemons back, there was less than twenty of his once hundred-strong fighting company.

Constantine himself had survived, remarkably, carried back by his surviving subordinates. He had recovered, and even though he stayed silent, Mowbray could sense guilt from the reticent castellan. However, Constantine's actions were what allowed them to complete the mission. If the daemons had managed to break out of the chokepoint and swarm all over the station, the Black Templars and their allies would have failed to capture the vessels in the orbital shipyard. Ships that the Word Bearers would then put to use against the Imperium.

"He should stop blaming himself," he said out loud. Claudio nodded, and then tilted his head as he listened to the vox.

"You wish to see the magos?" It was not a question.

"Yes." Mowbray sighed. "We will have to discuss the issues of resupply and rearmament."

*

"What do you mean, you don't have MKVII or MKVIII power armor?"

Constantine's angry voice sailed through the forge. Mowbray winced before he joined his castellan. The thickset Space Marine was gesticulating in anger toward a strangely human-looking tech-priest, who had his hooded head bowed in apology.

"We mean what we say, honored Castellan," Magos Mansfield replied somewhat stiffly, though whether the lack of modulation was from his augmetics or he simply couldn't suppress his impatience despite a Mechanicus priest supposedly being above such petty things as emotion, Mowbray couldn't tell. "We do not produce the MKVII Aquila Armor or the MKVIII Errant Armor. Never have. We don't have the STC for it."

"Then what has your forge world being producing?"

"I am sure the Castellan is aware that we manufacture arms, ammunition and vehicles primarily for the Astra Militarum regiments of Draconis III, as well as cybernetic automata, Knight suits and Titans." Mansfield glanced at the conveyor belts where plasma weapons were being rolled out. In another section of the manufactorum, Leman Russ Executioner tanks were being assembled, with servitors attaching plasma cannon sponsons or putting the Executioner plasma cannon together. In the farther distance, Mowbray could make out a half-completed Stormblade. Mansfield continued. "If you wish to have a supply of plasma guns delivered to your Chapter, we can certainly accommodate that. But other than MKX Tacticus and MX Gravis armor, we do not manufacture power armor for Space Marines."

"You don't even have the Phobos pattern?" Claudio asked dryly.

"No, we do not," Mansfield replied seriously, missing the sarcasm in the Castellan's voice.

"This will not do!" Constantine growled. "My fighting company have lost many of its veterans, and we need to clad our neophytes in power armor. They cannot be fighting in carapace armor forever!"

Mowbray and Claudio exchanged understanding looks. With the horrendous casualties that Constantine's fighting company had suffered, he had to elevate the neophytes in order to replace the losses. However, during the battle in the Malevolvis shipyards, Constantine and his surviving men were forced to leave their fallen battle-brothers behind (no, not that kind of Fallen - they were Black Templars and not Dark Angels). The precious gene-seed and power armor, all left behind in the damned shipyard, as the survivors desperately fled the overwhelming numbers of howling and braying daemons, their ammunition running low and their wrecked armor failing them.

And now they had almost no power armor left.

"You can at least repair the damaged MKVII and MKVIII power armor that we have?" Mowbray asked, remembering that many of the armor was beyond the ministrations of even their resident Primaris techmarine. Constantine's own techmarine had perished, trying to hold back a Bloodthirster with a thunderfire cannon.

"Uh...we have a 17.2% of success with repairing MKVII and MKVIII power armor..." Mansfield began.

"Useless!" Constantine roared. His frustration, already compounded by the loss his fighting company had taken, swelled. Mowbray placed a hand on the cracked pauldron of his Castellan's squealing, sputtering power armor.

"Now, now, Constantine. Calm down."

"What use is a forge world that doesn't manufacture power armor!?"

"We do manufacture power armor," Mansfield protested. "Just the MKX variety."

"My men and neophytes can't wear MK armor! Our physiques aren't compatible with it!"

"I apologize."

"Why do you not produce other marks of power armor?" Claudio asked, genuinely confused. Mansfield whirled to him, his augmetic eye glowing brilliantly.

"We were told that the Primaris Marines are the future. After all, they were created by a being none other than the Prime Conduit of the Omnissiah himself! And so the other marks of power armor were becoming obsolete. Hence we ceased production of such an inefficient..."

"Inefficient?! I'll show you inefficient, you blabbering cogwork..."

"Enough!" Mowbray had to physically pull Constantine back to prevent him from striking the tech-priest. He turned back to Mansfield, who appeared giddy with delight as he spoke about Belisarius Cawl. From what he knew, the errant tech-priests of Draconis IV embraced Cawl's philosophy, innovating and experimenting, often with serious consequences. Apparently, they called themselves the second Ryza as they attempted to rival that esteemed forge world by developing their own industry of plasma weapons, but Ryza itself never took Draconis IV seriously. "So there is nothing you can do for non-Primaris Marines? Perhaps alter the MKX power armor to fit them..."

"That's too much work," Constantine cut his marshal off bitterly. "The systems and interfaces of the MKX power armor are complex...they might as well try building a MKVII armor from scratch."

"I wasn't asking you, Constantine." Mowbray's tone was mild, but firm.

"Well, it's not that we can't do anything," Mansfield began. The three Black Templar officers swiveled around to stare at him. The magos held up a mechadendrite. "We do not have power armor for the non-Primaris Marines, true, but we do have Tactical Dreadnought Armor."

"Say what?" Claudio blurted out.

"Tactical Dreadnought Armor. Ah, perhaps you might be more familiar with the term Terminator armor..."

"We know what Tactical Dreadnought Armor is," Mowbray interrupted. "How many do you have?"

"More than enough to supply three comapnies," the magos replied brightly. "And we can produce more if you want. We have the STC for them, after all."

He proceeded toward another segment of the manufactorum, waving a mechadendrite to beckon the Black Templars to follow him. They did, weaving past a row of MKX Tacticus armor, with belts of chainswords and heavy bolt pistols being rolled out. There were even MKX Gravis armor, along with heavy bolt rifles, which Mowbray took special note of.

However, Mansfield took them past the Primaris armaments and toward an isolatd section of the manufactorum. Constantine stopped short, his breath caught in his throat, when he saw the rows of heavy Terminator armor arrayed before them.

"This..."

"If you want them, you can have them," Mansfield said, checking through the noosphere. "It's not like we have any Space Marine Chapter in the sector, anyway."

They did, but Mowbray had heard about the grim fate of the Sapphire Drakes. Once staunch defenders in the Draconis Sector, they had been accused of treachery by the Inquisition and the entire chapter disappeared shortly after that. There were rumors that the Sapphire Drakes had been destroyed by a mysterious chapter clad in silver terminator armor, but Mowbray was unable to verify that.

"There's more than enough here to armor my entire fighting company," Constantine whispered in disbelief, gaping at the many Terminator armor arrayed before him. To his amazement, they resembled none of the Terminator armor that he was used to. Half of them displayed large, layered pauldrons and bore additional plating and shield generators when compared to the regular patterns. The other half was sleeker, allowing for more mobility. "And these are all...relics. Patterns usually only seen during the era of the Great Heresy. I have never seen these numbers of such ancient patterns gathered in a single place."

"Well, we have the STC for them, so we built them." Mansfield shrugged. "During the Great Crusade, Tactical Dreadnought Armor was originally meant to replace the standard power armor, so we stopped manufacturing power armor and focused on Termiantor armor instead. Until the Prime Conduit of the Omnissiah - bless his grace - brought the newer MKX power armor to our forge world."

"Incredible..."

On the other hand, Claudio was more circumspect, studying the barreled-shaped Cataphractii Terminator armor with interest, before turning his attention to the more graceful form of Tartaros Terminator armor.

"Huh? Where's the Indomitus pattern?"

"We only produce the Cataphractii and Tartaros patterns. We only have STCs for those." Mansfield looked sheepish when he explained. "Since the STC for the Indomitus pattern is held in sacred Mars and other forge worlds, we didn't bother to get a copy."

Mowbray, Claudio and Constantine exchanged glances with each other, and then the marshal nodded.

"See to it that our men are armed with these."

"Very well." Mansfield rubbed his mechadendries and biological hands in glee. "It would be great to put these suits to use rather than leave them here to collect dust."

"Constantine, you will continue to liaise with the magos and organize the rearmoring of your fighting company. Claudio, let's go. We will be checking on Brother Devin."

A look of anguish came over Constantine's face, but the castellan clamped down on his emotions quickly. Devin was one of the sergeants in his fighting company and part of he very few survivors from the devastating assault by the daemons summoned by the Word Bearers, but he had been too heavily wounded. His body was currently in stasis as the apothecary planned to install him within the sacrophagus of a Dreadnought.

Unfortunately, they would have to once again rely on the forge world of Draconis IV to provide a suitable Dreadnought chassis for Devin.

"We will check on him for you, Brother-Castellan," Claudio assured Constantine. He simply nodded, and at Mowbray, he returned to his task. The marshal and his second-in-command then left.

As the two Black Templar officers walked through the manufactorum, Claudio looked around, particularly at the conveyor belt that was churning out Leman Russ tanks. There was another pattern of tanks they weren't familiar with, but a rough search through his dataslate identified it as a Carnodon medium tank, which was armed with fearsome volkite weaponry.

"I don't know if you've noticed, Marshal, but...it seems like they only manufacture the Executioner pattern of Leman Russ tanks."

Mowbray glanced in the direction that his second-in-command was pointing. True enough, every single Leman Russ tank was armed with an Executioner plasma cannon and plasma cannon sponsons.

"There are no standard battle cannons, none of the other variants. I believe it's a throwback to the era of the Great Crusade, where the Draconian Armored Defenders fielded entire regiments of Leman Russ Executioner tanks and Stormblades, but this is..."

"Inflexible." Mowbray paused and glanced back at where Constantine continued to discuss with Mansfield. The lack of standard MKVII and MKVIII power armor bothered him, even though they solved the problem with a ridiculous number of Terminator armor. He glanced at the weapons, noting the lasguns, volkite chargers and plasma guns, but there were hardly any other variants. Meltaguns were produced in smaller numbers. Flamers and heavy flamers were far and few in betweeen. No grenade launchers, missile launchers, man-portable heavy bolters or autocannons. The weapons they produced for the Astra Militarum regiments of Draconis III were primarily energy based.

Mowbray was surprised that Draconis IV continued to produce volkite weapons, though. Volkite technology was incredibly complex and extremely difficult to replicate, even back during the days of the Great Crusade, but apparently Draconis IV produced them with astonishing ease. At the cost of manufacturing ballistic weaponry for the Imperial Guard, apparently. He sighed.

"Draconis IV may be brilliant in terms of plasma and laser technology, as well as holding precious STCs of what would otherwise be relics in other worlds, but their...rigidity and singlemindedness hold them back. No wonder Ryza doesn't take them seriously."

"Indeed."

The two were silent until they reached the apothecarion where Brother Devin's ruined body lay. A tech-priest was in the midst of conferring his body into the sacrophagus that would be installed within a Dreadnought chassis.

But when they caught sight of the chassis, both Black Templars stopped.

"Isn't that...a Contemptor chassis?" Claudio asked, overawed.

"Ah, yes." The Magos Biologis in charge of the installation straightened up, his mechadendrites waving cheerfully. Like Mansfield, Magos Brenan was mostly flesh and organics, with few visible augmetics apart from the mechadendrites from his back. "We only produce Contemptor chassises here on Draconis IV."

"You don't have the Castraferrum pattern?" Claudio asked, astonished.

"The what...? Oh, the box variant." Brenan had skimmed through the noosphere for a second before he understood what the castellan was referring. "Nah, they're too ugly. And we have the STC for the Contemptor pattern, anyway, so why would we bother with inferior variants?"

Mowbray's lip curled. "They are not inferior."

"You can't deny that the Contemptor pattern is superior to the Castraferrum pattern, can you? They offer atomantic shielding, on top of being more mobile and maneuverable. Also, their modular structure allows them to swap out weapons, affording unparalleled flexibility on the battlefield..."

"I am aware of the strengths of the Contemptor pattern," Mowbray interrupted, staring at the chassis with undisguised amazement. "I am just...surprised and impressed that you continue to produce them. Few forge worlds still manufacture the Contemptor pattern today, if any. They are usually relics from the Great Crusade."

"Oh, you'll be surprised. There are many forge worlds who have the ability to produce Contemptor patterns. They just don't want to. Usually because of stupid superstitious reasons. There are plenty in the priesthood who eschew the Contemptor pattern simply because they resemble the mythical battle-automata of the Legio Cybernetica." Brenan waved a hand airily. "But Draconis IV is famous for manufacturing Cybernetica automata, and since the Contemptor Dreadought shares many systems used by our Legio Cybernetica, it's only natural that we favor its production over the Castraferrum pattern. We do not share such ridiculous superstitions - in fact, we revere the Legio Cybernetica."

"Understandable," Mowbray said, though inwardly he wondered if the priesthood of Draconis IV was close to skirting the line of heresy. He had heard that the Adeptus Mechanicus banned reseach on artificial intelligences and the restrictions on innovating Cybernetica automata - the dreaded Men of Iron came to mind - but he wasn't too familiar with what was allowed and what wasn't. Those were the domains of the mysterious tech-priests.

All Mowbray had to concern himself with was the eradication of the enemy. Purge the xenos, the witch and the traitor.

"We will leave Brother Devin in your hands...uh, mechadendrites then. Let us go, Claudio."

"Where are we going, Brother-Marshal?" The Castellan hastened his pace to catch up with Mowbray, who had broken to a trot as he headed in the direction where his shuttle had been parked.

"We will be heading to Draconis III next. I should at least pay my respects to the Shogun, especially since the Knights of his House have aided us greatly during this last expedition." Mowbray glanced up at the darkened skies of Draonis IV, imagining that the many blinking lights above belonged to that of his newly expanded fleet.

Then he clenched his gauntlet into a fist. "And to discuss our next plan of action. Do you remember the astropathic signal for aid?"

"Yes." Claudio perked up at that. "We will be going to battle once more?"

"Of course." Mowbray glanced back at the manufactorum one last time before he strode toward the shuttle. "Once we finish resupplying and rearming, we will move out with the fleet. We will head for Kryptos VIII."

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Way of the Warrior

 The two men strode across the verdant garden at a brisk pace, and despite the beauty of their surroundings, neither of them paused to admire the view. Elegantly pruned trees stood in what appeared to be a randomly staggered formation, pink Sakura blossoms drifting on the slight breeze. Water poured along a long bamboo pipe, trickling into a foutain in the garden.

General Jakren Stein eyed the smooth, white stones scattered across the garden. At first, his military eye had discerned a pattern to them, drawing parallels with the utililarian designs of the Kasrs in his home world. While the city-fortresses had all been destroyed when Abaddon the Despoiler invaded Cadia during the Thirteen Black Crusade, Stein's memories of serving in Kasr Kraf remained as vivid as ever. However, he realized there was no defensive pattern to the stones, no formidable formation. They were placed randomly, almost resembling serene rocks in a river.

His eyes were once again drawn to the bamboo pipe. Water sloshed into one end of the pipe, and it eventually sank under the weight of the water collected within the bamboo contusion, spilling its contents into the small fountain. With a loud thunk, the heavier end of the bamboo struck the rock, but it didn't rest upon the rough surface for long. A few seconds later, the bamboo pipe sprang upward once the water within it had been emptied, to drink the trickle of water pouring from above.

Stein shook his head, not sure what to make of the device. His companion, dressed in a fur coat that served as the uniform of the Valhallan Ice Warriors, chuckled. Mistaking the Cadian General's confusion, he offered an assurance.

"Don't worry. The warriors of House Yato aren't as...uptight as most other Knight Houses. You should have seen the ceremonies of House Terryn or House Cadmus. Their rituals last for days! There was one time where my officers and I were forced to listen to his majesty the High King ramble on about the gloried histories of his House for hours..."

"I understand, Colonel Ivanov." Stein sighed, raising a hand to cut off his companion's rambling. He brushed a hand over his green vest, which seemed thin when compared to the Valhallan's thick fur coat. Even though it wasn't very hot, he had no idea how Tolk Ivanov could stand being dressed like that. "Honestly, I was expecting a great feast, in line with House Cadmus's traditions, but it appears that House Yato prefers something...simpler."

That said, Stein had no idea what to expect. He had rumors of this tea ceremony, and honestly, he viewed all these formalities as a complete waste of time. However, the nobles of Knight Houses were powerful allies, and if he had to put up with such nonsense in order to borrow their formidable strength, he wouldn't mind sacrificing an hour or two of his time. At least he wouldn't have to spend an entire day, or worse...a week.

"What can you tell me about House Yato?" He asked instead. "Your Valhallan regiments have fought beside them before, have they not?"

"Ah...plenty of times." Ivanov nodded. The Valhallan colonel rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled. "They are formidable warriors, as you'd expect of a Knight House. Codes of chivalry and honor, and all that. But House Yato calls it...what was it, bushido, if I'm not mistaken. The way of the warrior, in Gothic. Sounds different, but all the same, really."

"I meant to ask about their command structure and military tactics, actually."

"Oh, well...they are pretty flexible and courageous. Like all Knights, they prefer close combat - view it as honorable. As for command structure...you know House Terryn, right? His majesty High King Tybalt?"

Stein nodded, and Ivanov continued.

"Here in Draconis III, House Yato's version of the High King is the Shogun. Don't address him as his majesty or accidentally call him the High King, they don't like that."

"Shogun. I assume he's the overall commander of the Knight Houses in Draconis III?"

"That's right. The ruler, so to speak, who reigns on behalf of the God-Emperor of Mankind. The Draconians believe the God-Emperor specifically selects him as His representative in Draconis III." Ivanov shrugged with a non-commital grin. "And the lords under the Shogun are the Daimyo. Basically, House Yato's equivalent of the Barons."

"So the Shogun rules over the Daimyos...who command Knightly retainers." Stein had read up on the information in his dataslate beforehand, but he appreciated hearing from an officer from a regiment who had firsthand experience with the Knight House. When Ivanov nodded, he breathed a sigh of relief. "Got it."

"We're here, by the way." Ivanov sounded cheerful, a jarring contradiction of the usually grim and stoic Valhallans who Stein usually encountered. The two men stopped before a wooden sliding door, and before Stein could knock, a strong voice spoke up from within.

"Please come in."

Stein glanced at Ivanov, who gestured for the general to enter first. He took a deep breath and pushed the sliding door to the side. Before he could step onto the tatami mat, the voice spoke up again.

"I would appreciate it if you take off your footwear."

Stein frowned, but he didn't object. He unlaced his boots and placed them by the side of what seemed like straw sandals. There were more regular shoes and boots beside the straw sandals, which was why he knew where to place his boots. Ivanov followed his lead, kicking off his boots before placing them neatly by the side.

"You can keep on your socks, sir," he said, unable to hide his amusement. Stein scowled and raised his hands from his feet before stepping onto the tatami mats.

Inside, a bald man knelt behind a low, wooden table, pouring tea into cups. His skin was a little tanned, resembling that of an unarmored White Scars warrior, with a black stubble of a mustache and beard covering his lean jaw. His figure was unimposing, but Stein could sense strength within that lithe silhouette, as if coiled to strike whenever a threat showed up. However, the bald man looked up, his dark eyes crinkling mildly.

"General Stein. I apologize for making you come all the way out here, even though you are so busy."

"Not at all, your excellency." Stein recognized the man as the Shogun. Yato Yoshimoto looked just as unassuming as he was in hololiths and dataslates, but in person, he exuded incredible strength and personality. Even though he didn't raise his voice, his words were projected across the room.

Yato wasn't alone. A tech-priest of the Adeptus Mechanicus was nearby, kneeling by another table. However, far from the eerie countenances of hybrid cyborgs that he had come to expect from the mysterious servants of the Martian priesthood, this particular one was mostly humanoid. While dressed largely in the red robes that were their typical attire, he largely bore a human face of flesh, and whatever augmetics he might have were concealed beneath the rust-colored fabric.

A few more nobles of the Knight House were also present, kneeling in what seemed like uncomfortable postures without complaint. All of them had the same black hair and slightly yellowed skin. They bowed politely when Stein took his seat aat Yato's gesture.

"Have some tea." At the Shogun's nod, a lady in a kimono approached the two Astra Militarum officers and served them cups of tea, along with sweets. Stein inclined his head as thanks while Ivanov chugged the tea down heartily.

Yato smiled. "I hope the tea is to your liking, Colonel Ivanov. It is not tanna, but the taste shouldn't be too weak."

"Not at all, not at all!" Ivanov laughed. "I like green tea as much as tanna. Developed a liking for it."

"If you'd like, I'll order some of these tea leaves sent to your regiment as a gift."

"That would be much appreciated."

Stein sipped the tea as he listened to the polite exchange. Inwardly, he was impatient to get to the heart of the matter, but he was aware that this decorum was often part of the formal rituals that Knight Houses conducted. It would not do to offend an invaluable ally. He suppressed the desire to jump straight to the topic at hand.

Fortunately, he didn't have to wait long. Perhaps Yato sensed his unease. Or maybe the Shogun was just as aware of the urgency of the crisis, for he raised his head to look at the tech-priest from the Adeptus Mechanicus.

"Now that we have all gathered here, I suppose we should begin. Magos Dominus Dominic here has petitioned for military aid, which is why I have gathered you all here, including our esteemed guests from the Astra Militarum."

Yato nodded toward Stein and Ivanov. The Draconian nobles spared the two officcers a glance, but none of them stared directly for too long. Apparently, such a gesture was considered impolite in Draconian culture.

"For those of you who do not know, this is Jakren Stein, in command of the 1,651st, 1,652nd and 1,653rd Cadian armored regiments." Yato nodded at Stein. "And Colonel Tolk Ivanov, of the 598th Valhallan regiment."

"Nice to meet you," Ivanov said, bowing his head a fraction. Stein followed his example, despite feeling uncomfortable. Again, Draconian culture appeared to place emphasis on deference.

"Takeda Taisa, you will be liasing with them." At the Shogun's words, Stein realized that at least one of the nobles present was dressed in full military uniform. Unlike the green and khaki uniforms that the Cadians favored, or the grey furred coats of the Valhallan Ice Warriors, the Draconian Defenders wore pristine uniforms of black and gold. The middle-aged man bowed, his black hair cropped close to his scalp.

"It is an honor."

"Ah, Taisa is their equivalent of colonel," Ivanov whispered to Stein. "They use a similar ranking system, but with different names..."

"My apologies." Yato cleared his throat. "Sometimes we slip into...non-Gothic nomenclature. But yes, Colonel Takeda is the commanding officer of the 724th Draconian Armored Defenders. They will be accompanying the task force to Kryptos VIII."

At that, he glanced at Dominic, who was sipping tea, much to Stein's surprise. He had thought the Mechanicus priest would no longer bother with conventional food and beverages.

"We will also have a macroclade of Skitarii and Cybernetica automata, as well as a fleet of the Basilikon Astra."

Stein nodded. He had read the briefings and had expected as much. Instead, he was more interested in something else.

"What is the situation at Kryptos VIII? I had my regimental astropaths just barely decipher the astrotelepathic cry for help before we were summoned here, but..."

Yato hesitated for a moment. "We are unsure...but from what we could decipher, a combined force of Iron Warriors and Word Bearers struck the mining world of Kryptos VIII about three months ago. They seized several hive cities and the Iron Warriors apparently built a massive fortress on the central continent. We aren't sure about this, but one of our astropaths claimed that he saw visions...visions of the Word Bearers enacting some kind of ritual within that fortress. We don't know what ritual that is, except that it will most likely have dire consequences if the Heretic Astartes succeed."

"I concur." Stein nodded. "We must stop the Traitors and reclaim Kryptos VIII, if nothing else."

"There is more." This time, everyone turned to Dominic, whose voice sounded curiously organic. The tech-priest placed his cup of tea down on the table with an unaugmented hand, though Stein swore he could see a mechadendrite trailing out of its sleeve. "A Mechanicus outpost in orbit of one of the outer worlds of the Kryptos system picked out an approaching Ork Waaagh!. By our calculations, there is a 97.3% likelihood that the Orks have already reached Krpytos VIII and are launching a full invasion."

"That's all we know for now, but we will find out more when we reach the system," Yato said grimly. "To answer the call for aid, I will be dispatching several Knight Lances along with Takeda Taisa's 724th regiment and five other regiments, including two battalions of Kamikaze Troopers. And I was wondering if you would like the honor of leading the Astra Militarum forces, General Stein?"

"I would definitely be honored to do so," Stein replied immediately, bowing his head. He recognized this as a courtesy from his host. "You have given my regiments purpose again."

"Not at all." Yato smiled and shook his head. "Your Cadians have honored us with your presence, and I am aware that you are enthusiastic to wage war once more. The blood of a warrior runs strongly in your veins, as much as ours, I suspect."

Stein simply nodded. It was only by the Emperor's will that his three regiments ended up in the Draconis Sector, adrift and cut off from Cadia when the Great Rift sundered the galaxy in half, rendering half of the Imperium beyond reach. The Astronomican had only just returned recently, and the Daconis Sector had received news that Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman had returned to Terra and was launching the Indomitus Crusade.

For his part, Stein was grateful to the Draconians for accepting the lost Cadian regiments, adopting them as their own.

"The sons and daughters of Cadia will always be welcomed in Draconis III," Yato said, as if reading his thoughts.

"So ten Astra Militarum regiments, several lances of Knights and a single Mechanicus macroclade?" Everyone turned to Ivanov, and he shrugged. "I'm assuming my Valhallans get to go too?"

"Of course." Yato chuckled. "We will not deny you and your 598th regiment that honor, Ivanov-san."

"Thanks, I guess?" Ivanov offered a lopsided grin. He rubbed his hands gleefully. "My men and women will relish shooting some Orks."

"Indeed. I hear that the Valhallans are renowned Ork slayers. But it won't just be us." Yato sipped some of his tea. "I heard that the Black Templars will be accompanying us. Their fleet from the Aligherian Crusade has stopped by Draconis IV for repairs and resupply, and I believe their Marshal Mowbray intends to recapture Kryptos VIII as well."

The Shogun lowered his voice. "The Black Templars wish to settle their grudge with the traitors of the Iron Warriors, it seems."

"That will be a great comfort." Stein and his Cadians had fought alongside the transuman warriors of the Adeptus Astartes, and he could think of no allies more reliable and formidable - apart from the noble Knights, of course.

"There is one last thing." This time, Yato directed his words not at the Astra Militarum officers or the Tech-priest, but toward the Knight pilots kneeling by their tables. His eyes narrowed, and for a second, Stein felt a chill run down his spine. "We couldn't confirm this through the astropathic messages. but apparently the traitor Knights of House Malinax are present as well, having allied themselves to the Iron Warriors and Word Bearers."

There was a sharp intake of breath across the room, and the Knight pilots of Draconis III tensed. Stein wasn't sure what had just happened, but he could guess that the Knights of House Yato held a grudge against the fallen scions of House Malinax.

That must be why the Shogun was sending several Knight Lances in addition to six Astra Militarum regiments from his world.

"You understand what this means, don't you?" Yato asked softly, yet every single man in the room heard him clearly. "If you encounter the traitors of House Malinax, destroy them. Allow them to suffer the full extent of our wrath. Do not let a single one of them escape."

There was a brief silence, and then the Daimyos of House Yato answered as one.

"Yes, our lord Shogun."