This is my first fanfiction. This chapter is only the start of what I hope will be a serie of adventures for my band of psychopatic, treacherous monsters in ceramite armor. If you appreciate it, or notice inconsistences with canon (which, to be fair, are almost sure to happen given the source material I am working with), please inform me.

If you like it, please review !

Hundred, thousands of warships fought in the skies of Terra. At the edge of the Sol system, the Warp was torn as the Thirteen and First Legions finally arrived to join the battle. Amidst the ruins of the Imperial Palace's outside defences, tens of thousands of Legionnaires screamed in anguish at the news that coursed through their vox-channels.

Horus Lupercal, the Warmaster, Primarch of the Sons of Horus and leader of the rebellion against the tyranny and lies of the Emperor, was dead, slain in battle by his own father. His Legion had been literaly shattered by it. Sons of Horus erred amidst the desolation, haggard, while Abaddon, First Captain of the Sixteenth Legion, launched a desperate attack on the Vengeful Spirit to reclaim the flagship from the loyalists' hands and with it, the body of his gene-sire. The rest of the Traitor Legions were desperate too, running to their own transports to leave the Throne World. Although they still numered in the millions, even without taking their mortal allies in the count, it was somehow obvious to them all. They knew the war was lost … or rather, that the Siege of Terra was lost.

Aboard the battle-cruiser Hand of Ruin,Commander Arken of the Sons of Horus felt his heart dying as news of the Warmaster's death were confirmed. He had heard Ezekyle's scream over the vox when the First Captain had found the Primarch's body. Now, on the screens of the command deck, he could see the flagship starting to turn away from the Throne World and running away.

Running away. If his thoughts had not been in such a turmoil already, that mere notion would have irked him. But he was beyond that point now, and it made a bitter tactical sense : the battle was lost. The had to leave and plan for survival now, with the Legions of Ultramar behind them. Later, they could plan for the future … once the shock that numbed their thoughts was lifted.

Oh, for sure the Sons of Horus would be blamed by the other Legions for running first, but it had all come down to a duel between the Emperor and his illuminated son, and they had lost.

So this is defeat, he thought. In two hundred years, this was the first time he tasted it. It didn't please him, but that displeasure was a dust in the wind compared to the crushing pain of his Primarch's demise.

And this is how the Iron Hands, the Salamanders and the Blood Angels feel. No wonder they are so enraged now.

He had seen how other Astartes had reacted to their Primarch's death. They had all showed different reactions to it, but in the end, there were only two ways to react : break, or hate.

Well, he knew how he was going to react. He would see the Imperium torn down for this even if it took ten thousand years. Cold, icy hatred sprung in his soul, and he embraced it. He let it cool his mind and his fury, focusing on the future. The pain vanished, replaced by a terrible and frozen void.

Arken opened a channel with his troops on the surface. Half his company was still deployed on the ground, and he wasn't going to abandon his own brothers if it could be at all avoided.

'Damarion, do you hear me ?'

There was a blur of static and for a few seconds the Commander feared that his brothers on the world below had been lost, too. Then an answer came through, in a voice dripping with sorrow, despair, and fear :

'Commander ?'

'What is your situation, Captain ?!'

'We … we are near the walls of the Palace, sir.'

'Are there any members of the other Legions near your position ?'

'Yes, sir. Dozens of them. We were trying to breach the walls when … when …'

'Focus ! I need you to be focused if anything is to be salvaged from that disaster !'

He waited a few seconds, to give Damarion time to gather his wits. He hoped that the Captain would not break. He liked the man. He owed him his life several times, and Damarion owed him his own in return about twice the same number of times. Finally, the Son of Horus answered, his voice steady if still a little shaken.

' … Yes, sir.'

'Listen to me. The battle is lost, the Siege is over. We need to leave the system, as much as retreat repels us. It's panic up here, every ship for itself. Most likely, our cousins with you will be unable to get to their own space crafts. So you are going to give them a choice, brother. Tell them that either they die here, or they come with you back to the Hand of Ruin and leave the system with will depart as soon as the last engine is in the landing hangar, at the very second the gates are closed !'

'As you command !'

Arken cut the communication and turned to the ship's commander, a human male named Koldak, with short blond hair and eyes that were as dark as the void his ship sailed.

'Shipmaster, I need you to be ready to break for the Warp as soon as my brothers are back from the surface.'

The human nodded to him, his face set in stone. He understood what Arken had left silent : he had to keep the ship alive until then, and it would not be an easy feat as the relief fleet of the loyalists drew ever closer. The Commander opened another vox channel, this one used by the Sons of Horus aboard the Hand of Ruin :

'This is Commander Arken. Heed my words, brothers. I know the pain in your souls. The Warmaster, our father, has been taken from us.' Speaking the words aloud tore him apart, and he felt as if the ice within was going to shatter, but he held to his hate. 'There will be plenty of time for mourning and revenge later, but for now, you must stand ready. The servants of the False Emperor are here, and will do all they can to kill us in the name of their enslaver. Prepare yourself to repel any boarding action. We must hold on until our brothers on the surface are back with us, then we will leave this cursed system behind us.'

He left the channel open long enough to hear the affirmative answers of his brethren as his words brought them back from the sorrow into which they had been drowning. He had once had five hundred Astartes under his command, but these numbers had been harrowed down by the civil war, culminating with truly catastrophic losses during the Siege. Only half a hundred warriors remained on board, and when he had sent Damarion down after he himself had returned to the ship to heal his wounds and repair his equipment, he had sent the Captain down with another hundred of his brothers. If Damarion managed to bring members of the other Legions back with him, there would be more than enough space to accommodate them all, he mused bitterly. The Hand of Ruin could host thousands of Astartes if needed, and with space to spare. It was a glorious ship, forged in the days before Isstvan by the members of the Adeptus Mechanicus who had sided with Horus. It presented several variations of the classic pattern of its kind, made to incorporate some of the secrets offered by Horus in return for the tech-priests' oaths. It had served the Sons of Horus well during the war, delivering fresh troops, human and Astartes, into the heart of battles to turn the tides against the False Emperor's lapdogs.

And if the Gods of the Warp that Lorgar had revealed to the Legion were willing to give him half a chance, he would make it do so again. Silently, Arken closed his eyes and recited one of the litanies that the Dark Apostles said drew the favour of the Gods. He was no psyker, but the teachings of the Seventeenth Legion told that the Gods did listen to all those who were worthy of their attention. Arken didn't share the fanatical devotion of the Word Bearers, but he had seen the power that dwelled in the Empyrean, and only a fool would try to deny such might.

Magnus the Red had tried to bend this power to his will. In his arrogance, he had believed himself to be master of its secrets. He had paid the price for his hubris, in the blood of his sons and the destruction of his homeworld. But the lesson he had been taught was also one for the rest of the Traitor Legions : do not rely too much on the Warp, and do not presume to control it. Still, considering the situation, Arken thought, a prayer could do no harm. His Primarch was dead, his Legion on the run, the war was lost. It would be impossible for the Octed to worsen it, safe by making him fail to escape, and that was already quite probable anyway.

'My Lord ?' said one of the serfs.

'What is it ?' asked Arken, shaking off the thoughts he had been dwelling upon.

'One of the enemy ships is closing in on us. It is launching boarding pots toward us.'

'Which Legion ?'

'Thirteen, my Lord.'

'The bastard sons of Guilliman,' groaned the Space Marine, 'coming to strike us in the back and claim the Imperium for their own liege. You know what to do. Me and my brothers will take care of those who pass through your barrage.'

Arken turned away from the command deck, tearing his eyes away from the image of Terra. As he started to walk the corridors of the ship to help defend it against the invaders, he knew, somehow, that this would be the last time he ever saw the cradle of humanity. Despite all that had happened this day, this cold certitude still troubled him.

But this wasn't the time to indulge such thoughts. There was killing to be done. Loyalists to slay. Time to gain. A fraction of the vengeance owed to claim.

'Let the galaxy burn,' whispered Arken of the Sons of Horus.

Damarion was aboard his Thunderhawk, alongside twenty more of his brothers who had survived the killing fields on the world below. His green armor was covered by the marks of war. His bolter hung at his side, his last clip loaded inside, half-empty. His chainsword had broken in the guts of an Imperial Fist, and he had left it there. In a way, he was very much the image of his Legion at this moment.

The gunship's flight wasn't a tranquil one. Many of the transports had been destroyed before the order to retreat had come, and those that remained were badly overcrowded. The Legionaries could hear the sound of lasers and ammunition of all size being shot all around their craft while the pilot brought them up to the relative safety of the Hand of Ruin. Standing in the cockpit, Damarion saw another of the gunships burst apart under the shells of the Palace's defences. It had born the colors of the Fourteenth Legion, and carried about thirty of Mortarion's sons, warriors who were now lost forever.

The sight unnerved him. His officer commander had ordered him to gather and bring as many Astartes to the ship as possible, and he felt that these deaths were a failure from his part. It wasn't logical, it didn't make sense, but Damarion's duty to his Commander were about the only thing left to the Captain of the Sons of Horus now.

Still, there were many other transports directed toward the battle-cruiser. Hundred of thousands of Space Marines from the Traitor Legions had been sent on Terra, and many of them had lost contact with their home ship or learned news of its destruction. Gathering them had been as easy as sending a message through the vox; they had swarmed to the hope of succour he had offered. There were other ships, of course, but apparently Commander Arken had been the only one to welcome members of other Legions than his own.

He was violently tossed around when the mortal pilot moved to avoid certain destruction, and clung to the walls in an effort not to fall down and crush the frail human. Their survival hang entirely on the serf's skill, and it wasn't a pleasant situation. They had started the rebellion because they refused to bow down to inferior mortals, yet now they depended on one to escape the consequences of their actions. The bitter irony wasn't lost to Damarion.

The next moments would be blurred in the Captain otherwhise eidetic memory for the rest of his life. He never knew how, but finally, they were aboard the Hand of Ruin, alive. He could heard the chatter over the vox : the ship was under attack, by boarders from the hated Thirteenth. He turned to leave the Thunderhawk and join the battle to cleanse the ship of their presence, then stopped. He turned his armored head to the mortal, and asked :

'What's your name, human ?'

'Perseus Kilaiz, lord,' answered the pilot. He looked exhausted and haggard, on the verge of just falling unconscious.

Damarion nodded in acknowledgment.

'You did well, Perseus. I will remember your actions if we survive this day.'

'Thank you, lord.'

When his bolter shot the first Ultramarine in the head, piercing through the Legionarie's helmet and spreading his brain on the ship's walls, Damarion realized that this was the first time he had killed a warrior of the Thirteenth Legion. Were he not still under the shock of the Warmaster's death, no doubt he would have relished the experience, but as it was, he only felt a bitter satisfaction at enacting revenge against the loyalists, as small as it was. Taking his victim's chainsword was a little more satisfaying. Perhaps using it against its former wielder's brethren would be even more so.

But there weren't any more Ultramarine around. The squad he and his brothers had crossed was entirely destroyed, slain by the common effort of the Legionaries who had chosen to follow him. When he had come out of the Thunderhawk, he had seen hundred of other Astartes on the deck, and more crafts were entering. All nine of the rebel Legions, it seemed, were represented aboard the Hand of Ruin. Hunting the other Ultramarines aboard the battle-cruiser would be easy … but he could not relent in his focus. The Sons of Ultramar, despite their arrogance, were still formidable foes, and they could do much damage before they were all slain.

Damarion considered the most likely targets of the boarders. The engines, and the command deck. If they could just prevent the ship from escaping, the rest of their fleet would take care of the rest, even if they didn't survive it themselves. The Son of Horus didn't doubt for a second that the Ultramarines would be ready to sacrifice themselves if they could take the ship with them.

Which one, then ? The engines or the deck ?

'Damarion ?'

'Lord Arken ?'

'So you survived,' said the Commander through the vox. 'Good, I was beginning to worry you didn't make it. Koldak just told me that we had to run now or we will never escape. I have given him my permission to close the landing decks.'

' … Were there any gunships still outside ?'

'I didn't ask him. Get to the engines, brother, and bring as many of the other rescapees as you can. Adept Merchurion just voxed me that they were under attack and needed reinforcement, and I am - ' the voice of the Commander was cut by a volley of bolter fire, quickly followed by the sound of ceramite armor and flesh bursting – 'otherwhise engaged at the moment. Go!'

The communication ended, and Damarion looked around him. He saw his brothers and cousins searching the corpses of their foes and friends alike, looting the dead for ammunition and replacement for broken or lost weapons. Realizing that his own bolter was still almost empty, the Captain took the clips from the Ultramarine he had killed.

Is this what we are reduced to, then ? A gathering of looters and plunderers ?

He pushed the thought aside, and focused on the task at hand. The engines were heavily defended, precisely because they were such an important target. Any force mighty enough to force the Adept to call the Legionaries to his help would be quite a challenge, and not one he could overcome with the help of only the Sons of Horus that were in his immediate vicinity.

Luckily, the members of the Sixteenth Legion weren't the only Astartes in sight.

The engine room of the Hand of Ruin was located deep in the entrails of the ship. It was vast, several hundred of meters across, but filled with humming engines, cables and control panels. Every single piece of machinery aboard the battle-cruiser was controlled from here, the techo-priests and servitors working endlessly to ensure the commands from the deck were relayed as quickly as possible to the machine-spirit of the ship. Right now, it was filled with the sound of weapons being used and the screams of those who fight for their life and that which they are sworn to protect.

Techno-Adept Merchurion was displeased by the turn of events. The representant of the True Adeptus Mechanicus wasn't usually a being prone to the act of feeling emotions, as was fitting of a member of the Machine Cult, but even he was angered by what had come to pass.

Before the start of the civil war, before the Warmaster tore apart the chains that the False Emperor had placed on the Omnissiah's true servants, Merchurion had been a lowly apprentice of the holy order on one of the forge-worlds. But when the time had come to choose sides, his master had refused to embrace the truth offered by the Warmaster and rejected the gifts of knowledge and freedom. Merchurion had done the logical thing : he had killed the heretic, and led his brethren to the glorious side of Horus' rebellion. For that, he had been rewarded well, being given the rank of techno-adept and command of the Hand of Ruin's Mechanicus staff. His responsabilities were many, but he was willing to bear them all for the Omnissiah's glory.

Just like his standing among his peers, Merchurion's aspect had also evolved a lot since the civil war had started. Most of his flesh had been replaced by the blessings of the Machine. He was as tall as an Astartes in full power armor, but considerably thinner. Eight mechadendrites emerged from the cloak that hid his body, equiped with all manners of tools and weapons, and he had replaced his face with a mask carefully crafted to evoke the image of one of the Empyrean's creatures the Warmaster had brought to his service. That one gesture may have been a bit vain, he admitted it to himself, but he believed the righteous fear it inspired into his lessers pushed them to work harder for the Omnissiah's and the Warmaster's glory.

However, it also quite plainly indicated his rank and, in the unlikely event of an assault, made him an obvious target. He had never considered that side of things before, but the chainsword pushed through his torso was making him rethink the wisdom of his augmentics very quickly.

There was some pain, of course, but it was more psychological than real, as he had had his pain nerves removed from what remained of his flesh long ago. No, more than anything, he was annoyed. The Ultramarine who had stabbed him was member of a greater force, and his kinsmen were rampaging all over the sacred engines, desecrating them with their crude weapons. He looked at the Space Marine, and hissed :

'The Warmaster is dead. The battle is lost. And now, your kind are vandalizing my ship.'

'You think I care about that, traitor ?' spat the son of Ultramar. Merchurion considered the question for two hundredth of second – a long time for one as augmented as him – and answered :

'No, probably not.'

Then he used his fourth mechadendrite's built-in plasma gun to vaporize the loyalist's head. Two others of the members pushed the body away, and he used his own arms – unlike other techo-priests, he firmly believed that all parts of one's body should be used in service of the Omnissiah, not just those replaced by His blessing – to tear the chainsword from his metallized chest. The weapon came off with a screeching sound and fell on the ground. Ignoring the gaping wound, Merchurion began to open fire on the other Ultramarines, supporting the efforts of his skitarii warriors. The engines were defended by three scores of the cybernetic soldiers, but they were no match for a Legionary individually, and almost fourty of the loyalists had found their way to this part of the ship. This was a losing battle they were fighting, Merchurion thought, but if they could hold long enough, then …

'Death to the False Emperor !'

A warcry interrupted Merchurion's thoughts, and he saw a warrior wearing the livery of the Sons of Horus and the markings of a captain over his battered armor rush into the engine room and charge the Ultramarines, followed by a handful of his brothers. And with them were warriors of the other True Legions. The techno-adept saw three Devastators from the Iron Warriors, a dozen World Eaters screaming at the loyalists while waving their chainaxes at them, six members of the sacred brotherhood of the Gal Vorbak using the morphing ability they were alone to possess amongst the Word Bearers …

There were others, pouring into the room, firing and screaming at the Ultramarines. The loyalists weren't fazed by the sudden change of the situation : as one, half of their numbers turned to face the traitors, while the rest redoubled their efforts in making the engines inoperable. A worthy effort, but a futile one. Most likely, the Ultramarines knew it was so. But the Thirteenth Legion had always been stubborn, ever more so since Calth and the Five Hundred Worlds had burned at the hands of Lorgar's sons.

The two groups of Astartes collided, and for yet another time since the civil war had begun, brother killed brother. Damarion's stolen chainsword clashed with that of a sergeant, and they traded a few blows before the Son of Horus managed to rise the bolter pistol in his free hand and shot his opponent in the face. The round didn't pierce the loyalist's helmet, but it sent him back, and Damarion used that distraction to ram his sword through both the Ultramarine's hearts.

Blood sprayed out of the wound, coloring Damarion's armor. The coppery smell was sweet to the Captain's nostrils – this was the scent of revenge. Every drop of blood was a blow against the slaves of the Imperium. From the moment when his blade pierced the flesh to the instant the Ultramarine's body hit the ground, Damarion's grief at his Primarch's death was replaced by a feeling of savage joy and ecstasy.

Then the Ultramarine was dead, and the pain and sorrow were back. Damarion winced under the twin burden, but now he knew how to make them disappear. He just had to kill, and kill, and kill.

The vision of the Captain tainted of red, and he charged the remaining foes, bellowing a challenge to the sons of Guilliman. He ripped apart an Ultramarine who had been about to behead a Night Lord, then impaled another one who had been trading blow with an Alpha Legionnaire, leaving the blade through his corpse. Still screaming in mindless anger, Damarion picked up the chainaxe of a fallen World Eater, and returned to the slaughter.

The coalition of rebels lacked the unity and coordination of the Ultramarines, but they more than made up in numbers and ferocity. They tore the group of defenders apart, taking only a few casualties as they did, then attacked the rest of Guilliman's sons.

A few bloody minutes later, the engine room was clear of enemies again. The Captain of the Sons of Horus walked toward Merchurion. He was covered in blood from head to toe, and his voice was boiling with barely-contained emotions. At the sight, Merchurion was once again thankful that his augmentics spared him such distractions from the Omnissiah's blessed work.

'Adept,' he greeted. 'Are the engines functionnable ?'

'By the grace of the Omnissiah, they are, Captain Damarion. I thank you for your timely arrival.'

'You can thank me by ensuring the ship has the power it will need to get us out of here alive.'

'I shall do my best,' replied Merchurion while sligthly bowing.

Damarion nodded and turned back. As he walked to the exit, he said :

'Oh, and, Adept ?'

'Yes ?'

'Ask some servitors to strip these bastards of all their equipment before you dispose of their bodies. We will need it after this is over.'

Arken pulled his sword out of the Ultramarine Captain. That had been the last one. Looking around him, he noticed that he was the last man standing. Over twenty Ultramarines had attempted to storm the command bridge, but none of them breathed anymore. The corpses of Arken's bodyguards, all six of them, laid on the ground at the side of their foes'. The sight didn't cause any reaction in Arken's heart, just as the killing hadn't provided him any satisfaction. He had expected to be enraged in the battle – indeed, that was how his bodyguards had acted. Instead, it had just felt … cold. He didn't feel anything. The cold had dulled the pain of his father's loss, but it had also, apparently, stripped him from his inner fire, if not of his efficiency in battle.

Arken thought that he should be troubled by this, but he couldn't think of why.

The ship shook as it was hit by another salvo, and Arken managed to remain on his feet, albeit barely. Seconds later, someone hailed him through the vox. Recognizing the rune as that of the shipmaster, he blink-clicked on it and opened the channel.

'Commander ? Are you alright ?'

'Yes, invaders that threatened the bridge have been dealt with. Did you receive any report from Damarion ?'

'Affirmative, lord. He and some of our … guests from the other Legions have cleansed the engine room. They are now hunting the remnants of the boarding forces through the corridor. I called you to warn you that we are about to enter warpspace.'

'That isn't something you should tell me alone, shipmaster. Why did you specifically call me ?'

There was a pause, as if Koldak was uncertain of how to explain his action.

'My lord … the Navigators have told me that the Warp is in frenzy. They think that whatever the Warmaster was doing that allowed us to sail the storms in relative safety stopped the instant of his … his death. This is going to be very dangerous.'

'It will keep the loyalists from following us, then. Do it, shipmaster. Get us away from here.'

'The Navigators don't know if they will be able to set a path, my lord … and even if they could, where should we go ?'

Arken pondered the question for a second. Where could they go ? Where would they be safe from the Imperium's wrath ? There were entire sectors loyal to the Warmaster's cause, but they would be crushed under the Imperial might quickly. The galaxy would still burn in war for decades, for centuries before the Imperium could finally claim it had won the war, but he had to think ahead, to plan for the centuries it would take to build a force able to tear down the monolithic empire. Was there any place in the galaxy where …

Of course. There was one such place. A place where the followers of the False Emperor would never dare to set foot, a place where the Traitor Legions had allies that could help them rebuilt their strength and prepare for their vengeance. In all the galaxy, only one place had been out of reach from the Great Crusade.

It would be a dangerous journey and an even more dangerous place to live in, but for their failure, they had no other choice.

'Tell the Navigators to sail toward the warp anomaly at the north of the galaxy, shipmaster.'

There was a grim determination in the Traitor Marine's voice as he repeated :

'Tell them to bring us to the Eye of Terror.'