Into the Heart of Darkness

Crossing the Gulf

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I had been chronicling the endeavours of the 29th Millennial for almost two years when they were recalled to Tanazi by their master to spearhead the Taming of Ouroboros Constellation. By this time I had published the first part of my book to, in this author’s humble opinion, glowing reviews back on Terra, and I was eager to see how the warriors of the 29th Millennial would handle leading an entire Expeditionary Fleet. Over the past months I had been posted on the Heavy Cruiser “Godless Faith” (see chapter 4b for more information about this ancient warship) which housed the entire 3rd Company under the command of Captain Yosuf Elarim, and we had developed a good working relationship over this period. So when Captain Elarim and the Godless Faith was tasked to lead the vanguard, and scout out the Northern Marches of the Constellation, I naturally requested to go along, a request that was granted by lord Fulgrim himself, an act I will forever be grateful for.

The crossing of the Ophidian Gulf was a tense and harrowing affair. The Empyreon was in constant flux here, and if not for the excellent skill of Fleet Captain Goscinny and her crew we would never have reached the Constellation at all. Even some of the Astartes seemed slightly worried, though their combat drills kept them occupied most of the time. None worked with greater zeal than Captain Elarim himself did, though. As I have mentioned earlier, he was a man of endless energy, able to pour his entire being into whatever he set his mind to, and with the Godless Faith nearing the Constellation he worked like a man possessed. He held hour-long planning sessions together with his inner circle, First Sergeant Elthanon, Ancient Justinian, Rasofiel of the Librarius and Eryk Dagon, the representative for the grim and secretive Knight House Dagon (see Chapter 2.3 in Book II, as well as Magister Pavus’ seminal work “Ancient Legends – A detailed description of the old and noble houses of the Questoris Knights” for more information about House Dagon). These meetings I was usually not privy to, but on one occasion, just days before our scheduled warp transition, I was invited to observe one.

It was with great trepidation that I set foot into the War-room of the Godless Faith. Gathered around a large holo-screen showing the planets of the Northern Reaches as detailed by Rogue Trader de Winter, was the inner circle of the 3rd Company, discussing where to place the first strike. Erryk Dagon suggested a concentrated attack on the Technarchs of Kovhir, whereas First Sergeant Elthanon, headstrong as always, was in favour of liberating the world under the yoke of the Devaraj. Ancient Justinian, always the voice of reason even after his near death and interment into Dreadnought Armour at the hands of Eldar raiders during the Jara Purge, wanted to coordinate with the detachments from the XIV and XX legions before committing to a course of action. Captain Elarim listened with a slight frown on his angelic face, and did not speak until everyone else on his council had said their piece.

“Brothers, honoured ser Erryk, I thank you for your counsel. Our task is a great one, and in this we cannot allow ourselves to fail. Though it is true that the Technarchs and the Deveraj are foes that have broken the most fundamental rules of the Emperor of Man, and that this is a mission we cannot complete without the support of our brothers, we must look at our most important duty as part of this Great Crusade: the reunification of Mankind under the rule of Blessed Terra. In this I suggest we focus on the crumbling empire of the Yilderin. Cut of the head of the Dynasty, and we will have forced Compliance on them. When the rest of the Expeditionary Fleet arrive they will find the disciplined armies of the Yilderin ready to serve, as well as a solid base of for further operations deeper into the Constellation.”

The reaction from the other members of the Inner Circle was varied, though not entirely out of character for them. Ancient Justinian merely said a monotonous “Acknowledged” before striding out, and First Sergeant Elthanon proclaimed with great zeal that he would lead the charge whenever the Captain gave the order. Erryk Dagon just left the room with a curt nod and a slightly predatory look on his face. The last to leave was the quiet and insular psyker Rasofiel, his lilac coloured eyes meeting mine for a fleeting moment before he was gone.

With only Captain Elarim remaining he turned to me and said with a sad smile:
“It is truly humbling, Miss von Dracken, to know the fates of a million lives rest on your shoulders. I cannot even fathom how our Lord and Father does it, but I cannot fail Him, not in this matter, or any other.”

This was the first time I had seen an Astartes display any kind of doubt doubt, but as I was going to learn later, superhumans are still humans, with all of humanity’s flaws.

From the book The Song of the Akritai, or The Journey to Perfection by Cecilia von Dracken, Remembrancer and Historian attached to the 29th Millennial. The work is censured for obliteration by the order of –REDACTED-.

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