Dragus Khardel watched as the fusion bombs descended onto the Imperial Palace on ĎHolyí Earth. He wished to see the raw destructive power of these weapons from the front lines, but he would have to settle for watching the expanding dome of fiery annihilation that he could see from the Battle Bargeís port window. He had been upon Horusí personal flagship to learn about the newly discovered art of daemon-powered bionic augmentations. The idea fascinated him, and it would be put to good use within the Iron Warriorsí ranks. The Iron Warriors already extensively used bionic enhancement, and with daemonic energies powering them, they would become gods on the battlefield.
Then something had happened, the Bargeís shields had dropped, allowing the Emperor himself to lead a strike team to assassinate Horus and behead this invasion. No matter, thought Khardel, Warmaster Horus is more than a match for this False Emperor. He had driven Khardelís legion into the ground, and Khardel was eager to hunt down any isolated loyalist scum and exact his revenge. Khardel profoundly felt the missing presence of his servo-arm; it was still dismantled atop an altar, waiting for Khardel to finish the possession ceremony. Khardelís irritation passed quickly as he felt the reassuring grip of his thunder hammer, Thor, in his armored gauntlets. Coming around a corner, he found himself in the Briefing Chamber directly below the Bridge where, unbeknownst to him, the Emperor and Horus were soon to clash like the gods they were. His attention was focused on the Emperorís Champion before him.
ďSo, the traitorous scum has finally come out of hiding and revealed himself?Ē the Champion jeered.
ďAh, quite the contraire, the Loyalist whelps have been sneaking these corridors like rats, and it required a true warrior such as myself to hunt them out.Ē Khardel shot back. The Champion raised his sword, pointing it at Khardel threateningly. ďToday you face the Emperorís Wrath for what you did to Tallarn, Iron Traitor.Ē
The Champion charged, and Khardel deftly blocked his killing thrust with his combat shield. The impact jarred his arm, and the shot heíd been lining up with his bolt pistol went wide. Khardel ducked under the Championís two-handed reverse swing, but didnít have enough space to counter with Thor. Khardel stepped back and swung a crushing over-arm blow towards the Championís head. The Champion brought his sword up sideways, catching the haft of the hammer with the flat of his blade. Khardel pushed downwards with all his might, the bionic augmentations in his arms buzzing menacingly. The Champion felt himself being slowly crushed into the floor, and sidestepped from under the thunder hammer with lightning speed. Khardel only just had enough time to twist and block the Championís return thrust with his shield. The duel raged on, each warrior quite the match for the other. The Champion shattered Khardelís femur with a superbly placed kick. Khardel smashed the power pack on the back of the Championís armor with Thor as he sidestepped a charge. The battle continued. Eventually, the Champion began to tire, Khardelís bionic enhancements allowing him to continue on for much longer. The Championís exhaustion was his downfall as he let his guard open enough for Khardel to make an enormous under-arm swing, his thunder hammer smashing into the Championís lower chest, the subsequent energy blast throwing the Champion across the chamber. A dent the size of a manís torso had been mangled into the Championís breastplate, and he could feel both his unaugmented lungs had ruptured under the force of the blow, and most of his organs had been liquefied. Khardel laughed cruelly, and mockingly saluted the fallen warrior. Unexpectedly, the Champion hauled himself into a sitting position, and emptied the clip of his bolt pistol into Khardelís chest. One of the rounds penetrated his breastplate and detonated among his vital organs. Blood blasted out of Khardelís mouth to spatter the inside of his helmet. He slumped slightly, and slid backwards down the bulkhead behind him. Agony was coursing across his chest, but he was well accustomed to such pain. Again he saluted the warrior, and even through Khardelís helmet one could tell he was smiling. ďWell done Champion, you have been quite a fight. Being able to sit up and aim with such a smashed stomach takes quite an effort, I am impressed. Sadly, it is not enough and you have been defeated, but I am still a man of honor. I will give you an appropriate burial in space.Ē Khardel laughed manically, and swung Thor into the fifteen-foot-wide viewing window next to him, while gripping the handle on an access ladder with his free hand. The Champion was in the center of the chamber, and had no such convenient handholds. When the massive window blew outwards, he was immediately dragged towards the gaping wound forming in the wall. The Champion still had one card to play though. Sliding along his back, he stabbed his sword dagger-style into Khardelís chest as he slid past. He was hoping the traitorís torso would be enough of a handhold to keep himself from being sucked into space. What he didnít expect was for Khardel to immediately release his handgrip and fling them both into open space. Both were Space Marines, so the hard vacuum of space posed very little in the means of danger to them. What was dangerous was the frightening rate that they were both accelerating toward the Earthís surface. Khardel knew they were both going to die, but he wasnít going to spend an eternity in damnation without having a final hand at revenge. Roaring in rage, he fired his pistol at the Champion over and over again. His shots found their mark, one of the rounds collapsing the face of the Championís helmet. A split-second later, the bolt detonated and the helmet exploded outwards, revealing the bloody ruin that had been the Championís head moments before.
Khardel grunted in satisfaction, and let the Championís corpse drift away from him. He pulled the Championís sword out of his chest, and flung it towards the departing Champion. They were both reaching the atmosphere now, and Khardel could see sparks and glowing motes forming on his armour. He was falling face down, and the Championís corpse seemed to be falling back first. He wasnít sure how long he was falling, but he could feel the immense heat burning at his armour and body. He was jarred out of his mindless meditation when the Championís body exploded. He had ruptured the power cell with his thunder hammer, and the re-entry air-friction had caused it to over-heat and detonate. Khardel cackled madly, realizing he was even superior to the Champion in something as stupid as unaided orbital re-entry. The laugh turned to a scream as the heat intensified, and Khardel blacked out from the pain.
He came to some time later in complete darkness. This is it, Iíve died and now my soul will be torn apart by daemons for eternity in the Warp, Khardel realized. The agony he felt had to be the daemons ripping him to shreds, he couldnít see them because they had already gouged out his eyes. He would be torn apart completely, only to reform and start the process over again. Khardel screamed.
Some time passed, Khardel knew not how long, and he realized he still couldnít see, and that the agony hadnít intensified as the daemons capered over the shreds of his soul. A faint shred of hope appeared. Maybe Iím not dead, Iím in bad shape but not dead. No, impossible. This is the daemonsí work; theyíre giving me false hope so they can destroy it.
Khardel tried to move, and his body, genetically enhanced or not, roared agonizing pain at Khardel in protest. Khardel stopped his efforts for a moment, allowing the red haze of severe trauma to recede from his vision. He tried again to move. This time his bionic implants responded, and his right hand fumbled upwards. But it felt wrong. His body was out of alignment, but couldnít re-orientate itself with whatever up may be. The disorientated sensation combined with the agony made Khardel want to black out again. He resisted, and with his working arm, tried to feel some sense of his surroundings, accepting his blindness for now. The air resisted his movements, as if he were in zero-g or water or maybe even soft mud. So this is what it is like trying to move in the Warp, Khardel thought. No surprise that so many Warp Daemons take the form of aquatic or airborne life, thereís no solid ground to truly stand on. He began to take inventory on what was functioning. Either the power in his helmet had failed, or, more likely, he had been blinded by something. Khardel could only see darkness. His left arm and shoulder felt like a blasted wasteland, he could feel the bones of his dislocated arm protruding from the top of his shoulder, as well as the smashed remains of his collarbone. His right femur was broken, thanks to the Imperial lickspittle. The bones in his left leg felt relatively intact, although the hip, knee and ankle joints were all pulp. Every single rib was broken in at least one place, and his spine felt fractured in at least three different locations. Thankfully his augmented spinal chord had withstood any damage. This didnít feel like the work of Daemonís hungry talons, this felt like a Titan had stepped on him. Khardel was tempted to think the Titan had inflicted more damage, but he knew that was ultimately false. So, he wasnít in the Warp, he certainly didnít feel dead, so where in Peturaboís name was he?
Several hundred kilometers to the east of the Imperial palace is a region that is mostly swampland, further turned to sucking mud by tank tracks and millions of marching feet. Khardel had landed in this area, and had smashed nearly twelve feet into the soft ground. Khardel didnít realize this until he heard the faint thudding of explosions, from the massive battle taking place at the Imperial Palace.
Realization dawned on Khardel, and he sparked into action. Several minutes later he had managed to dig his way out of the drowning mud. Looking up at the sky, he could see the smoke trails from the pieces of the Championís body that had burnt up in the atmosphere. It was no coincidence that they formed an eight-pointed star, Khardel thought. No coincidence at all. The Chaos Gods had been impressed with his fighting spirit, and had spared him from death, leaving their mark on the sky as a sign. Most of the joints on his armour had nearly welded together, and it took Khardel a supreme effort and considerable pain to flex them back to life, although his left knee joint had stayed fast. All the insignia had been burned off his armour, and he was sure most of his armour was about an inch thinner. The only identifying feature that remained was the iron eight-pointed star of Chaos that hung around his neck on a chain. It hadnít burned up on re-entry, and now was glowing yellow hot. Khardel smiled, and raised his fist in salute to the sky, and the space beyond it.
Dragar Var Khargoth roared his pledge to the Chaos Gods, then set out west to rejoin his brethren in the war against the Emperor.
*EDIT* I've done some tweaking to the sentence structure and added some bits to the story, overall it flows better in the last half.
Very nice, it's good that you mentioned the Emperor and Horus, most would put something like they faced them, but good work.
very nicely done, good description of the single combat scene, also like the bit about unaided re-entry superiority. good job.
I liked that bit too, a very good story on the whole and you were immensly good at describing their to-the-death combat blow-by-blow in a way that makes me feel rather jealous.
I liked how the Champions remains formed an 8 pointed star in that sky, and that his only remaining insignia was also an 8 pointed star. Good story, hope to see more like it.
I like it. The action scene was good. I like the way you describe Khardel's "death". The eight-pointed star was a cool touch.
Keep up the good work :thumb: .
Woo-hoo, positive feedback!
*head expanding in a ballon-like fasion*
Well, your worth it. Are we going to hear more from this fellow?
I am somewhat short of time today but as soon as I can I shall give it a read.