Chapter one.


Realspace buckled and twisted as, in a kaleidoscope of colors that should and could not be, the Kobold class heavy ore transport Berge Vangatore back into reality.

This was a trip it had made countless times before, and Emperor willing, one it would make many more.

The system it had entered was not much to look at from a first glace. Most of the planets were gas giants or airless rocks, with only one planet able to sustain life of any kind.

But what it lacked in life, it more than made up for in its mineral wealth.

Ioiria was a system rich in adamantium. The asteroid belt that bisected the system held much of the ore, but Ioiria Prime was also rich in the metal. Duralium made up much of the rest.

In fact, in the entire Ultima Segmentum, only Nostramo outclassed it in how much adamantium it produced.

And the gas giants were also rich in an abundance of gases used in all sorts of industrial processes across the sector and beyond.

Much of this wealth was mined by Mechanicus servitors or a small penal colony in orbit of Ioiria II. The inhabitants of the central world were mostly itinerant farmers and herders.

Those who were truly lucky, or blessed depending on who one asked, might be taken into the fold of the Mechanicus complex, and in a few instances, into the Ioirian Dragoons when needed for the Emperor's wars across the galaxy.

And for a very select few, there remained the chance that they could one day ascend and join one of the Emperor's Legions.

Only one spaceport connected the planet with the wider Imperium, and the heaviest ships it could take were local system defense monitors and those that took the mined ore to orbiting Mechanicus craft.

Every month without fail a ship would arrive to collect the mined ore and gases for shipment out system. Most went into the Iron Cage around the Ruinstorm, the rest was shipped to forge worlds across the sector and beyond.

But now something had changed. In the shadow of the Berge Vanga, another ship lurked, and it came with an icy coldness, as cold and without mercy as its long dead homeworld.

Ashinvar Warwolf looked at the incoming planet with disdain, but only those who had known him for a long time would be able to tell.

Sevril Redblade spat from his left, his Tartaros pattern terminator armor grinding with the motion. "Skitja, what a waste. We do them a favor by culling it."

Raldoff Deathblade let out a mirthless chuckle. "You say that about every world we come to brother. None will ever be as glorious as Fenris."

His Mk. III pattern armor whined as he turned to look at his packmate. "Why you keep expecting them too I do not understand."

Ashinvar let a smile cross his lips at the exchange. It was one the two of them had done for as long as he could remember, even before he became Wolf Lord in fact.

Only those two stood with him on the bridge of the retrofitted Mars class battlecruiser Jormungander at the moment. Most of the warband were below reading for battle.

Many had done this many times before, but there were always a few new ones to bloody, or those that survived anyway.

Not that he expected many of them too live that long. Turnover in the Blood Claws was always high. Today could be different of course.

This world was lightly defended from what he knew. It was partly why he had chosen it, but there was another as well.

Ashinvar had debts to repay with the XIIth Legion. Not as many as the XVth of course, but there were several none the less.

Ioiria may have been just one of many recruiting words for the World Eaters, but every little bite could bring down the largest of foes if given time.

The Warwolf would make sure of that.

It would be several days before they came into range of Ioiria Prime, time enough to refine the plans for the battle to come, and it would get his warriors pumped up after so long of doing nothing. Doing nothing was anathema to the sons of Russ.

And it had been some time since they had done anything at all, so long in fact that others in the Great Company were calling them soft. That would not stand.

No one called the Warwolf soft and got away with it for long

Deep in the ship, not far from the launch bays, another also made his own preparations for the battle to come.

Iron Priest Halbroec Rockhammer looked forward to the coming battle perhaps more than any other in the warband, though he would never tell anyone this of course.

His workshop was somewhat bare compared to others of his profession, but what he did have was something that allowed the whole ship to be invisible in every way possible.

It had been picked up during the Errance before the Rout had joined the Arch Traitor's cause on some nameless xenos world by a previous member of the warband.

The slaves of the False Emperor had a name for what he did, one he found amusing for its naivety. Let the weakling masses think what they want, what he did was worth it for what he gained, and it had gained much for the Warwolf in his time here as it had himself.

The coming battle promised the opportunity to gain new research materials, many of which he had not seen before since he had never had the chance to study those of the XIIth Legion.

Halbroec looked forward to changing that soon.

Unknown to all, there was another that came to the system. Fortunately for the Imperium, they came with better motives.

The meditative space aboard The Unyielding may have been small in comparison to what he had once been accustomed to. But for Sektoth they served their purpose well.

Space aboard a Thor class frigate was at a premium as it was since so much was being taken up by the torpedo launchers and magazines. It was not his first choice, but beggars could not be choosers.

The irony was not lost on him either. The name of the class came from one of ancient Terra's false religions. A mighty hero who slew giants to protect the innocent.

Sektoth would not consider himself a mighty hero by that standard. Before his, change, he had only been a solid, dependable warrior of the Thousand Sons Legion's XXIIIrd Cabal.

Among his brothers Sektoth had never really stood out. His command of the Pyrae art was commendable for his age it was true. But few other things made him stand out.

Maybe the greatest of those was that he had been the one to break the back of a Dark Angels Legion warband's attack some years before. Whether that meant anything in the long run was unknown for you could never be sure with the 1st Legion.

At the time it did not matter. His sergeant had made sure that he received much of the praise at the conclusion. He had only nodded before resuming his regular duties.

In all the time had had served the XVth Legion, he had never really served alongside brothers from another Legion. Which seemed odd since many of his brothers had at some point or another.

Sektoth had never thought much of it. Yes, he did miss the camaraderie that came with fighting alongside fellow Legionaries, but at the time he had thought he would in time.

Now he was not sure he would ever see any but Traitor Legionaries in his future. And he would see them all dead before long no matter who they were.

His current pursuit was one step along that road. And it gave him a special pleasure for he had a deep hatred for the flea infested barbarians of the Space Wolves.

Though he was too young to have been alive at the time, his family had been one of those who had escaped to Terra after Prospero's destruction during the Great Heresy.

And he would see that ancient wrong done right. Even if it was in small increments such as this. Every little bite hurt in the end.

In all that though, Sektoth did not lose sight that it was an Imperial world that this would be fought on. He would not make a mess of this if he could.

Whether he could keep that promise was another thing.

AN: It feels good to get back into this universe. It's been awhile.

Some of you might remember the original version of this story. I wasn't happy with how I was doing it so I scrapped it. The plot is the same, but now we'll see it happen in real time.

The characters from the original are still here but we won't see the World Eaters until the end of story. And if I'm feeling really lucky, we might even see Angron on the return to Nuceria.

But I can't promise that.

One last thing. Halbroec's character is directly inspired by Nemris's rendition of the Xenophile Arch-Hereteck. Not the same guy of course but still.