Arnell's Ascendancy [Novel length, Part 5]
This Article was written by:
His mind spun wildly he looked for any possible reason as to why the True Domination had disappeared. Possible battle damage? Warp engine safeguards triggering a drop out of the Warp? No it all seemed to easy. The Scourge of the Damned was no fighting vessel, it's spacious hull had been given over to transport of the Astartes. Turrets and lance batteries were a secondary concern.
Another facet to this engagement nagged at Navigator. Why had the True Domination stopped it's onslaught against the Holy Benefactor? And then the ship break suddenly apart an hour later?
There was just too many strange occurrences and too little information for the Navigator to be certain. With such a thought, Garro found it easier to focus on the real task now.
Bringing the mighty and cumbersome vessel slowly onto a new course around a vicious looking eddy, Garro pushed the engines to their limit. He was intending to bring the Astartes vessel right up to where the Khorne flagship had been and should it return to fight, it'll be in easy reach of the Scourge of the Damned.
"This is Mars Aran to Garro. How goes the fight?" the vox cackled.
"The fight is going well. Tell your Astartes to ready themselves for boarding actions. The True Domination may come into boarding torpedo range."
"May? What do you mean, may?" cackled the Librarian on the vox unit again.
"It's transitioned back into the real universe. It may be back, so I'm taking us in closer" replied the Navigator.
"Why haven't you took us out of the Material universe to finish the True Domination?"
"Please refresh my memory, Chief Librarian, but isn't our job to save the Imperial transports and not go heretic hunting?"
"It is," replied the Librarian, "but if we can bring one heretic to justice, especially once as dangerous as Arnell to kneel, then it will of been worthwhile."
"Trust my judgment, Aran. If he shows his ugly face around in these parts of the Warp again, he'll pay."
"There is something else out there, Garro. What is it?"
Before the Navigator could reply, something caught the Navigators eye. "It's… it's the Warp Emissary" replied the Navigator. A tone of disbelief evident in his voice. Not disbelief that a Tzeentchian ship had appeared, but rather that Mars Aran had detected its presence in the Warp before Garro.
"What in Terra's name is Adual doing here?" asked the voice on the vox.
"I have no idea, but he's making a run for it. His engines are on full thrust and his weapons aren't powered" snapped the Navigator as he regarded the shape of the Tzeentchian ship. It was sleek and elegant, and although it's hull was tinged in various shades of different colours, it was pretty to look at, thought Garro.
"What are your orders, engage the Tzeentchian ship?" asked the Navigator.
"If he's running, then you'll be lucky to get a few good hits. Leave him for now. Concentrate on protecting those transports" replied the Librarian.
Calistro dared to move closer to the young girl. He held his axe of Khorne in his right and his bolt pistol in the other, and he was tense. "You killed Arnell, what manor of sorcery is this?" asked the Lieutenant, clearly unsure of what to do next.
"I am a follower of Khorne, that is all you need to know, mortal" screamed the girl as she walked away from the body of Arnell.
Before the Khorne Lieutenant could walk up to the body of Arnell, the girl collapsed.
Strolling over to examine the corpse of the Khorne Lord, Calistro carefully spun the dead Lord over to see the wound. He was shocked to see the clean removal of the chest armour and the deep wound in Arnell's abdomen.
Strolling over to the girl, the Lieutenant carefully approached her. His body was tensed for any sign of movement, and he was ever ready to fight if the girl wasn't dead.
Flicking the girl over onto her back with his axe, Calistro stared at the girl for a long moment. He had seen that face in the vault room of the Holy Benefactor when she was surrounded by guards. Although now she was somewhat different. Her skin was clammy and had a unmistakable red tinge to it. Her lips were thin and her frame was wasted to the point of being almost too frail that Calistro doubted she could even stand up.
The girl's body was gaunt and had visibly aged rapidly since he had last seen it.
Calistro had only ever see this happen a few times, and he knew exactly what had happened. From the evidence, he surmised that a daemon had possessed the girl and had then killed Arnell.
Calistro smiled to himself as he strode over to the body of Arnell and reached down to pick up Arnell's glaive. As he felt the weapon in his hand, something didn't seem right. He had always imagined that the glaive would be heavier, and that it would be far more overpowering in its thirst for death.
Something stirred over the Lieutenants left and his eyes snapped in the direction of the Khorne Lord.
A startling bright red light flared out of the Lord's body and bathed the room in a red twilight. Around Calistro, he could hear hundreds of quite voices, all speaking in tongues and ancient, archaic dialects. Calistro's skin tingled with the sensation of thousands of fingers running up and down his flesh, and he peered down at his hands. Thousands of cuts begin to appear as he felt them become slick with blood. Touching his face with his hands, he felt blood seep through cuts which appeared there.
Forcing his eyes closed with an effort of will, Calistro could feel room grow colder, and felt the chill of the void touch his very soul.
A screech tore through the Lieutenant's mind, filling it with an emotion he had only experienced a small number of times in his life. He was being filled with terror, and he loathed every minute of it.
As suddenly as it came, the screech had gone. Forcing his eyes open, he glared around the bridge. The room had grown darker and in the half light, he could make out shapes moving. Grunts of angered creatures seeped through to the material realm from the Warp, and even here, Calistro had to fight every instinct to flee from the place.
Something writhed off to Calistro's side, and he knew exactly what it was. The body of Arnell turned and was as pale as white snow as the armour he wore worked loose of the body. Calistro continued to watch the body of the Khorne Lord twist and grow increasingly more bulbous and massive. The few armoured plates which still clung onto the expanding frame broke off into fragments as they were unable to stop the creature inside from expanding.
Minutes passed in near silence as the Khorne Lieutenant watched the growing form of Arnell assume it's new shape. It had grown massive, and although the head was swollen beyond all proportion, Calistro could still see the features of Arnell in them. Large skeletal plates formed on the Lord's back and a short, stumpy tail took root. The Lord's arms grew longer and Calistro could see the muscles strengthen and grew more bulky, his legs took on a more hunched appearance and two massive hooves grew out of his feet. The Lord's back grew ever more hunched and a row of armoured ribs grew out from Arnell's chest.
"I knew Khorne wouldn't take me for long" smirked the Arnell as the room returned to its normal state, and the half heard voices died away.
Calistro was stared down at the glaive which he still held in his hand. Something about the weapon was different now, as though the daemon in the blade had been re-awakened.
"Gishnarr!" snarled Arnell as he reached out an open hand towards the glaive, and despite's Calistro's grip on the glaive, he was unable to hold onto it.
It slipped out of his grasp and flew over to Arnell, landing in his grip. In the hands of Arnell, the berserker glaive looked tiny, like an Astartes holding a combat knife.
Arnell ushered a few chosen words, and glaive writhed in the Lord's hands as it grew, forming the shape of not a glaive or halberd, but that of a massive sword, the size of which only Arnell could wield.
"Calistro, do you still serve?" asked Arnell bluntly, returning his gaze towards the Lieutenant.
"I do, master." Calistro gave a short, sharp bow of his head in acknowledge.
"As my most senior Lieutenant, I give you the rights to wear my terminator armour." Arnell's eyes shifted over to the suit of discarded armour where Arnell had once laid dead. "Take it to the armourers at once" ordered Arnell.
When his Lieutenant had gone, Arnell smiled to himself as he strode over the body of the girl. "Must all daemonic practices be so complex?" asked Arnell quietly.
The True Domination didn't return to the fight with the Imperial transports, and despite heavy losses on both fleets, the Imperial warships managed to damage and force the Khorne fleet to disengage.
Reports of the True Domination didn't begin to appear again until 974.M38 and no mention was entered into Imperial archives of the cult incidents on Torrin, and the cults are still active to this day, despite strict purges by the Imperial authorities. Although Arnell was undoutabedly active during the years between 17.M38 and 974.M38, such reports were expunged by one of Inquisitorial authority, who many believe to by Inquisitor Lord Holt of the Ordo Hereticus.
Inquisitor Mintus later died in 009.M39 after confronting the traitor Canoness Gemiel.
Mars Aran continues to serve his Chapter in the Emperor's name to this very day, and has never chosen to arise to the full title of Chapter Master.
Comments and criticism are welcome!