Chapter 2, part one

One minute to impact.

The voice of the servitor pilot of the Caestus assault ram did little to Valor's thoughts as it announced their time. His thoughts were already on the bloodshed to follow and the chance to increase his own standing.

Behind him five of his fellows all stood at the ready. Like Valor himself, they all wore various marks of terminator armor, some in better shape than others.

Lorvan was the only one of the group to have the newest iteration of the Indomitus pattern. How he had claimed it was anyone's guess for he never spoke of it. But he was a valued member of the squad so Valor did not begrudge him that. Too much anyway.

Ornos was clad in the older Cataprhactii pattern. He was also one of the oldest members of the entire warband. In some that would make him a prime candidate for promotion if Valor was killed.

But Valor did not intend it if and when that day came. Not only did Ornos not desire it, his mental state was dangerously close to falling into Dorn's Darkness at times.

Rosharn was clad in a suit of Tartaros pattern armor. Out of the squad, Valor saw him as someone who could take his place one day, if he lived long enough that is.

Stefan wore a mixture of various patterns. He was the second oldest, but unlike Ornos, his mental state was more sane. If such a word could ever be used for an astartes.

Of the whole squad, Lyvor was the youngest of them all. Though young was somewhat unfair as he had participated in countless atrocities. At the moment he was checking the narthecium attached to his arm, extending and retracting the reductor tool.

He was not a trained apothecary by a long stretch, but he was the best the warband had at the role. He hoped to one day be trained by of the Legion's apothecaries at one of their hidden gen facilities.

Behind and around them many more assault craft drove at full speed toward their target. Valor had three dozen other Imperial Fists under his command and several hundred trained mortals. Not the largest in the VIIth, but a number that worked well enough.

Thinking of that, Valor remembered that it had been one such visit some time ago that had led to the way he rewarded the warriors under his command.

And it had come from of the last places he had ever expected.

Imperium date 600.M40. Location unknown.

Demitrius Valor was not a man used to conflicting emotions. Which left his current mood even more sour than it already was.

His ship had exited the Warp several hours earlier at the edge of a system that lifeless and worthless to all but the select few that knew of what lay there.

Ever since the close of the Clone Wars, when Fabius Bile had sacked one of the VIIth Legion's gene facilities, only those of Rogal Dorn's blood knew where they existed.

Valor had returned to this one on several occasions before to replenish his warband's numbers and deliver the gene-seed of the fallen to the apothecaries that worked there.

In all the prior visits, his had been the only ship on station. But now…

"What ship is that?" He growled to the comms officer.

The comms officer checked the readouts. "It's broadcasting as the Blood Reaver of Lord Kalron of the Crimson Lords warband my lord."

Valor's brows creased. He knew the names only by reputation. One of the largest warbands of the VIIth Legion, Lord Kalron had plied the stars since the days of the Great Heresy and had fought at the Siege of the Corpse Emperor's palace if the tales were true.

Seeing them up close, Valor could well believe it.

"My lord? We are being hailed by the Blood Reaver. Should I respond?" The comms officer asked as the rest of the bridge crew watched in anxious silence.

Valor thought on it a moment. "Open it." He growled.

The voice that came through held an unmistaken tone of authority to it, hidden in an avalanche about to be unleashed. Or so Valor thought. It was one that would make lesser men quail or even bow to in its presence.

Demetrius Valor was not a lesser man and he bowed only to Rogal Dorn and Khorne.

"To whom am I speaking?"

"Demetrius Valor of the Skull Hunters. I was not expecting someone else to be here."

There was a low rumble in what could be called a laugh. "The Skull Hunters huh? I have not heard that name in a long time. Your name is new though."

Valor laughed. "I am old enough. Be on your way, we have business to attend to here."

"Do not presume to tell me what to do boy! I have ravaged the stars since long before you were anything." Kalron's anger was palpable even through the vox. Clearly he was one who was high in the Blood God's favor.

"And you will be disappointed anyway. My warband has already taken what warriors were here. You will have to go elsewhere if that is what you seek."

Valor cursed. That was a major reason why he was here. Their last battle had been against a Raven Guard Legion warband and the cost of victory had been high. After a moment though, a thought came to mind.

"Then maybe you can help us in another way Lord Kalron. I know of your reputation. And I would be remiss to not at least see you face to face."

Kalron chuckled. "Flattery will get you nowhere. But it has been too long since I have seen another of the Legion besides my own warriors. Make your delivery, and then we can work something out."

The vox clicked off even as Valor turned toward the bridge door. "Keep on course. But avoid the Blood Reaver as much as possible."

The voices of affirmation from the crew he barely paid any mind. His mind was already on what was to come. And whether he was making a mistake in doing so.

AN: Another chapter done. And now we move to a little side story within the main story.

Those of you who have read No Man's Storm will recognize Lord Kalron from it. His inclusion has two purposes.

As the commission price for the cover art, Nemris asked that I have him mentioned in some way during the story. He left it open on how.

And after some time, I realized that Valor and he have something's in common, besides the obvious. So I decided to expand upon that.

This interlude should only be maybe a couple of chapters long before we get back to the main portion of the story.