Nothing But a List of Names to Mark his Ascension

Chapter 2: Cruel Surgery

Ocella Lyon concentrated on the pain. The pain was good. The pain meant he was alive. If he lost consciousness he would die, and they would throw his body out the airlock like the others that failed. He couldn't die. Not yet.

He was lying on a slab in a Chapter Apothecarium. He had his suspicions that he was still on a space craft, but he had no way of confirming it either way. The Blood Ravens had not let him travel according to his will. Every second of the day was spent according to a strict schedule, and Lyon had lived by it for three years. The bright white chamber around him was bare except for the slab he laid on and a tray of medical tools to his right. The door of the chamber was closed and it had been for a while. He had forgotten exactly how long. Above him, an air vent hummed quietly.

Lyon had heard stories of these vents, that the Blood Ravens deliberately pumped foul toxins and diseases through them so that the weakest recruits would be killed by infection. Ocella looked down at his scarred chest and then up to the Imperial Aquila bolted to the plasteel ceiling, the only decoration to be found.

"Please dear Emperor, see me through this," he prayed.

The Apothecaries had cracked open his chest cavity about six months before to implant the Mucranoid, Larraman's organ and the Omophagea. Then they had left him for eight hours to see if he would bleed out. Today the same Apothecaries had broken him open again to give him the occulobe and the precursor to his second heart. Gene therapy and radiation would see to the efficient growth of both organs. The biscopea and multi-lung were to be implanted within the coming months.

He wondered if Nathaniel was still alive. They had been separated almost immediately after the Blood Trials. Before he could truly begin to think about his peer's situation, the door to the chamber hissed open and two Astartes in predominantly white armor stepped in. Lyon's gaze shifted between the two of them, but their helmed heads offered no sympathy.

One of the two stepped forward. "I hope you are prepared Neophyte, it is the ordained time. Pray that the Emperor has granted you the strength to endure." He turned to the other and said, "Brother Harkon, would you please fetch the other surgical tools?"

"Of course," Harkon said curtly.

The Apothecary standing beside Lyon turned to him again. "Now you shall receive the blessing of the Haemastamen, the blood maker. The tools we will use are saturated with infectious bacteria. If your body rejects the Haemastamen, it will surely kill you." As he spoke he reached down and with a practiced motion, cut open Lyon's chest for the second time that day.

"Your larraman cells are working wonderfully, Neophyte. You will serve Chapter Master Kyras well at this rate." Lyon could almost hear the smile in the Apothecary's voice, but could not see past the scowling helmet. Soon however, the pain began to get the better of him and he felt himself slipping away. He fought back, and managed to stay awake despite the urge to just drift off.

Captain Thule had just arrived in the observation room with Sergeant Tarkus just as the Apothecaries finished their work. Both Thule and Tarkus were wearing their power armor and carrying their helmets under their arms. The dark observation room was illuminated only by the flashing lights of biometric monitors. Harkon busied himself confirming the vitals of the patient as the other Apothecary moved to speak with Captain Thule.

"Captain Thule," he said. Seeing Tarkus, he paused, and then resumed speaking "and Sergeant Tarkus. What honor do I owe this visit?"

Tarkus was stoic as ever, even when addressed by a Blood Raven in such high standing. His face was blank, and he calmly nodded back to the Apothecary. "The honor to view your work is mine alone."

Thule stepped forwards to view the patient better. "This is the Neophyte? He looks much different." His augmetic eye glowed in the darkness, illuminating his stern face and wide jaw line.

"He is different Captain. We have been working on them all".

"And the other one, Augustine, is he alive?" Thule asked, turning to face the Apothecary again.

"Harkon, confirm Augustine's status," ordered the Apothecary, waving a hand at his subordinate.

Harkon walked across the room to another set of monitors. After typing a few keys he spoke. "He is alive Apothecary. The same cannot be said for three others however."

"Dead?" Asked the elder Apothecary.

"In the head at least, what should I do with the bodies?" Harkon asked, half expecting his teacher to make him carry them down to the Techmarines to make servitors out of them.

"Take them to Techmarine Martellus," said his teacher, "The Chapter can always use more servitors."

Expectations met, Harkon replaced his helm and took his leave from the officers. Thule continued to observe Lyon, and spoke from where he stood. "I have received a saddening report from the master of astropaths this morning."

"Captain?" asked Tarkus. It was evident that this was the first he had heard of such news.

Thule continued, "I regret to say that the Kaurava campaign was a disaster. Captain Boreale is dead and nearly five companies of our brothers are lost."

Tarkus' bald head paled. "Who could have destroyed five companies of Blood Ravens?"

"It was the Imperial Guard, under command of General Vance Stubbs." Thule shook his head. "He must have unleashed his full might upon our forces."

"What of the others?" asked the Apothecary.

"It seems Captain Gelden and the 5th Company escaped on the Strike Cruiser Retribution. I have also confirmed Captain Halforn and Daroth' deaths, and their Companies nearly gone."

"We will need recruits then," said the Apothecary. His voice was even, curt almost.

Tarkus held back. As much as this crime demanded vengeance, there was no way they could attack Stubbs now and escape excommunication. The Blood Ravens were toeing the line already after their victory on Kronus. The Inquisition had not overlooked their destruction of the Imperial Guard at Victory Bay.

Suddenly cursing his forgetfulness, he spoke up. "What of Cyrus, Captain?"

"Cyrus is still with us, and returns to us with the Astartes that yet live. He will be happy to see new recruits, especially after the deaths of many of his initiates."

Tarkus allowed himself a sigh of relief before stepping closer to the Apothecary, who had removed his gauntlets to sterilize them at a sink in the corner of the room.

He stiffened for a moment and then asked, "It is rare for you to operate on new recruits, is it not?"

The Apothecary looked up quizzically before turning back to his cleaning. "Even I have feelings of nostalgia after all this time, Sergeant".

"I mean to say, is that as the Chief Apothecary of the Honor Guard, do you not have more pressing matters to attend to?"

Apothecary Galan looked up from his work and said "Sergeant Tarkus, Chapter Master Kyras takes a keen interest in all potential Blood Ravens. Surely you must understand that it is my duty to minister to them."