Vaults of Victory, Desolator-class Battleship Eclipse, 8 149.062.M42
"So." The carapace-armored form of Inquisitor Astrid Skane stood before the engraved adamantium doors before her. "This is your trophy room."
"What can I say? I'm nostalgic." The Millennial, wearing his full suit of armor, helmet and all, stood beside her. "I prefer to keep reminders of the past to help enlighten me as to how I should react to future."
"Interesting." She responded, watching with piercing eyes as the Inquisitor traced an outline within the carvings of the door. With a soft click, the nigh-impregnable latches cracked open, the great guardians of the sacred room moving open to reveal a rather plain hall, the light of torches maintaining whatever illumination they could within the pathway.
"Ladies first." He smirked beneath his helmet. "I know I should've probably asked this earlier, but you're not the sort who'll attempt to slaughter me for my trophies like some... others may do, are you?" His demeanor became somewhat more serious.
Astrid shook her head. "We all have things best left untouched. You're not the only Inquisitor in the Calixis sector with such a collection, I'm sure."
He nodded, stepping through the doorway to examine the treasures within. Some were items acquired on the so-called Cold Trade market, fragments of Eldar wraithbone or alien statuary preserved inside of reinforced cases, each coated with a rare ion shield to preserve its contents from being stolen by thieves. Deeper within the collection were more exotics - the fragment of the Black Blade of Angron captured on Armageddon, still encased within the cube of glass, as well as Devram Korda's helmet. A Prognosticaon lay within another case, a Ryneite Murder-Cogitator and the slagged carcass of a False-Men in yet another within the enclave, its chest completely blown off and a hole through its guts exposing several loose wires hanging from within.
"There's much I've found over the years." His hands ran over a case containing a particularly lethal Schismatical that had been isolated and trapped inside a disabled cogitator, ion fields crackling at his touch. "Press that button back there." He motioned to a case that held only a screen and a button outside of the case. Astrid looked over and, finding nothing of interest, pressed the button - only for the face of a long-dead Primarch to stare back at her.
"Your presence does not surprise me, Assassin. I have known of you ever since your craft entered the Eastern Fringes. Why did I not have you killed? Because your mission and the act you are about to commit proves the truth of all I have ever said or done. I merely punished those who had wronged, just as your false Emperor now seeks to punish me. Death is nothing compared to vindication."
The camera moved forwards towards the naked, monstrous form of before crackling into nothingness. Astrid stepped back, raising an eyebrow. "How did you get this?"
"Asked for a copy. It's digital data, after all - it can be copied nigh-infinitely." He shrugged. "I follow a school of thought I prefer to call Disciplinarianism. I believe my acolytes should be trained with the best knowledge of our enemies and their many past strategems. They should know the truth - that the most devoted individual can be twisted by corruption. And that those many call gods can be slain. We are Inquisitors, and the knowledge of the past should be a guide to our actions in combating the enemies of Mankind. Faith and feelings can only go so far."
He turned, eyes darting between a legless Mech-Spider and a Bone Flute. "Ah. The Men of Iron." He paused, standing before a case containing a Goleph, surgically dissected into its six major sections, nigh-perfect except for its gashed torso. "AI running wild. That's what you get when machines that can think for themselves end up getting corrupted to Chaos." Passing an Oblivion Volitor whose prongs were laden with desiccated brain matter, he motioned to a heptagram engraved on a piece of metal clearly torn from some sort of breastplate. "They call this an 'Immateria Ward.' I ripped it off the chestplate of a Tzeentchian sorcerer. It was glowing then, but hasn't glowed since I acquired it."
"Do you use any of this?" Astrid's words rang throughout the ill-lit chamber. "Have you used any of this?"
"No." His response was swift as he eyed a Rubric Marine, one taken many years ago. "I recognize that everything in here is irredeemably corrupt and would only bring trouble to me and my acolytes if it was utilized. By my studies, I know what is beyond the capability of being cleansed, and what is capable of being purged of corruption. A bolter, for example, stolen from an armory and used by a Chaos cultist for a short period of time, is minimally corrupt. It can be cleansed and put back to work in the service of the Imperium. A weapon possessed by a daemon in the hand of one of the most powerful Chaos champions may have its corruption weakened, but it will never be truly purified. I taught the Erinyes this, which is why they've reclaimed so much war material and denied much more to those heretics in the Eye of Terror."
"And what sort of cleansing rituals are performed?" Astrid raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "Is the traditional blessing not enough?"
"No." He responded. "I recall watching them dip a bolter reclaimed from Chaos Space Marines in a vat of boiling oil and sacred incense. They lit it on fire to burn away the corruption. By the end of it, the Librarian overseeing the process sensed nothing from the weapon except for the scent of burning promethium."
"Tell me about the Pilgrimage of Ruin." She seemingly ignored his response.
With that, the Millennial froze in place. "...how do you know about that?"
"I have my ways. I have no desire to end you, but I must know why you went there." She responded.
"Ordinarily, I would be overtly suspicious - but you've seemed a respectable Inquisitor from what I've heard. So very well..."
Death Guard Fortress-Monastery Ruins, Barbarus, 6 464.040.M42
The world of Barbarus had, for almost ten millennia, been nothing more than a lifeless ruin. Scoured by Imperial orbital bombardments, the planet had been declared Perdita by order of the then-recently created Inquisition. Its secrets had been preserved amidst the toxic atmosphere, the wreckage of scavenging ships laid low upon its treacherous landscape. Where there had once been a fortress-monastery, now there was but but a charred ruin.
It was for this reason that the Millennial had come to the world - the ancient ruins split asunder lay untouched, with the most intriguing of treasures lying within. Following him were a group of Terminator-armored Astartes, their crimson armor tarnished by the harsh air as they traveled across the forbidding landscape.
"How much further shall we travel before making camp?" One of the Terminators eyed the Millennial as they continued to travel through the ruins.
"We'll know when we get there." Silently he thanked whoever had created power armor - without it, he would've been incapable of walking for as long as he had. "This pilgrimage was done for your benefit, to put to rest the daemons of your forebears and give you the sense of righteousness they once had, before the lure of Chaos came upon them. You deserve something... from better times." He sighed before coming across the depths of their fortress's most sacrosanct chamber, a sputtering door panel signs of past entry from before.
The Astartes of the Reaper's Disciples readied themselves, Indomitus-armored Terminators grasping their power scythes at the sight of the sparking console. "Fuck... someone's been here. Battle formation!" The Inquisitor raised his weapons, grimacing as he looked around. "Maybe scavengers of a bygone age. I don't know. There has to be some sort of reason." He moved further within the building, Reaper Lords behind him.
"This place is cursed. Why would one return to this damned world?" One commented.
"Likely because the lure of something was too great to be ignored." Another responded. "Even through the declaration of quarantine, even through the Imperial ships patrolling this - whoever came here either had the highest clearance directly from the Inquisition or the High Lords, or was mad enough to come to this world out of some deluded form of insanity that gnawed away at their rational being until nothing was left."
As if to answer them, a long, sparking tendril of mechanical rust crossed the ground, rearing up in hatred as it flung itself towards the Millennial, wrapping itself around him before giving a horrific screech. Unraveling its daemonic form from his sanctified armor, it reared up towards one of the Reaper Lords, who attacked it with his power scythe that it wrapped around and began to rust away. Though the blade remained intact, the handle began to crumble as the creature grew snug about it. Eventually, it could no longer hold together and snapped in half, the creature looking for another target as storm bolter rounds sprayed against it rather ineffectively.
"Fuck... it's a rust monster!" The Millennial raised his power maul, flailing it at the dextrous daemon. "I thought this shit only existed in tabletop... Don't let it touch you, or your armor will be fucked!"
It was then that a Reaper's Disciple raised his Power Fist, grasping the head of the daemonic entity and crumpling it with a tight grasp before smashing the agonized monstrosity against the ground several times and throwing it against a wall. The corroded imprint of the monster against the wall was quite visible as it fell to the ground, weakly writhing before being consumed in a burst of foul green Warp flame, leaving naught left but the wall imprint and the rusted shaft of the broken Power Scythe.
As the party walked further into the ruins, it became apparent what the metal was from. Still clad in dilapidated red robes that were ultimately threadbare, their shriveled up and mummified bodies were preserved relatively well by the bog-like atmosphere of the world. But of these corpses, one thing was missing - their implants. Of the several within, some had more corrupt bodies than others - while one stood near the back, hand raised over his robe.
"Turned on each other?"
"The madness on this world would overwhelm even the most rational of Mechanicus adepts." Brother Verd spoke up. "What they were doing here will be found in due..." He trailed off, noticing at the rear of the ruins that there was a glowing light which seemed to still be shining.
They traversed closer to find an odd sight - a Power Scythe, clearly once of ample quality. Filigree of gold was obstructed by corroded metal, which had long worn down the original shaft. The power field was still intact, identifying it as an M31 Deathshroud power scythe. The handle was broken in half - not by deterioration, but by the strong hands of a suit of Cataphractii armor.
"Perhaps someone broke an oath." Verd commented. "This weapon has no reason to be here except as some sign of defiance."
Grasping the broken part of the handle close to the head of the power scythe, the Millennial examined the weapon closely. "Hmm..." He paused. "Yes. A pure relic from a corrupt legion. By the power invested in me as a member of the Holy Inquisition, I hereby present you with this fragment of your past, a small sliver of an artifact to be recreated and reforged at your behest. Once more shall it serve against the enemies of mankind - the enemy within, the enemy without, and the enemy beyond."
"Such was how the Pilgrimage of Ruin began. Yet acquiring something of the past for a single chapter was not enough. I had to go further..."