Deathwatch: Scything Talons
Friedrich der Schirmherr
Now you're speaking in my tongue, Xenos! Let's get down to Business!
Name: Friedrich der Schirmherr
Age: 207 (by Standard Terran Reckoning)
Chapter: Sanctus Ordos Volcanus Vipera
Company: N/A, Chapter does not adhere to Codex Company formations
Squad: N/A, Chapter does not adhere to Codex Squad formations
Rank: War Smith
Chapter Demeanor: Flame and Fury! Faith and Fire!
The Vipers’ believe that the Fire they all possess must be expressed in action, through their works and defeating the Emperor’s foes. Conversely, it must also be borne as an inner strength to fight and turn back the Enemy Beyond
Personal Demeanor: Impetuous
Friedrich’s initiation trials and the foes he has faced has kindled the Fire in his soul, becoming more a force of nature than a warrior. Once asked about the action against the traitorous REDACTED Chapter, he replied that “I don’t think that far ahead” with regards to the consequences of killing over a dozen Astartes who were sired from the Ultramarines
Mental Fatigue: Patron of the Young
His time in testing the youths of his homeworld and witnessing many of them perish while forbidden from intervening has caused fractures in his psyche, leaving him to favour and protect the youth of the Imperium even at the cost of the greater battle or mission
Initiation Trial: Challenge (Rites of Battle p. 12)
Facing a Space Marine in single combat is something not to be taken lightly. Facing one willingly as a child, however…
Past Event: Tempering
Cast out by his brothers, Friedrich is sent to the Eye of Terror and beyond, to return only when he has mastered the Fire in him
Theme Song Played on His Turn: Take a guess
Likes: His “Sheared Heart Strike” holodisk by King, Uproar-pattern design aesthetic (such as his own armour)
Dislikes: Chaos Space Marines, That Magos
Hobbies: Baking Pastries of Martian Craftsmanship (He crafts pastries the likes of which you are powerless to imagine)
Buttons: Harming the young, Daemons, Traitor Legions, Hereteks and threatening and/ or insulting his adopted “children” (even if they’re a century old)
“What does not kill me did not try hard enough”
- Friedrich on the aftermath of the Second Siege of Arx
Outside his chapter, no one is quite sure what he looks like, never seen outside his warplate, hiding his features not unlike a Dark Angel. This may be for the best due to his Chapter’s traits. His true age is a mystery due to the Warp’s strange effects on time, but as far as the Imperium is concerned, he is roughly two hundred and seven standard Terran years old. His profile on the battlefield is unmistakable, standing a head taller than most Astartes, almost matching even those clad in Terminator armour in size and bulk.
Of his Wargear, all of it he crafted during his neophyte years, up to and including his Mark VIII “Errant” pattern power armour. As is common among his chapter, the armour is covered in a layer of tempered scales, designed as an ablative level of protection, giving it durability matching terminator plate. This also gives the armour its unusual scaled look, emulating the mythical dragons. Preferring to dispatch Imperial Judgment up close, he has a jump-pack fashioned in the form of two serpent’s heads, bellowing fire as he launches into the air.
To practice his craft, he carries with him the tools he has used since his induction to his chapter. A myriad of tools, spare parts and other supplies, he is well equipped to repair most Astartes Wargear in the field, although to what extent is dependent on the materials at hand. Of last note is the sidearm that never leaves its holster in battle, understandable, given his lack of need for a ranged weapon. While it is obvious to the trained eye that it is not a Bolt Pistol, he has been seen to use it to weld or otherwise melt materials in the practice of his craft. One can only imagine the heat it emits as it can cut through adamantium plating with contemptuous ease.
Due to the circumstances of his Trials, he has an insubordinate streak to him and is prone to breaches of protocol, such as addressing individuals by name only. This works both ways as during his time with his Chapter, he insisted that he be called by his name only. He has a rather morbid sense of humour, heckling cries to Khorne or making conversation at inopportune moments in battle. This is contrasted to his attitude with the young, having been known to be the sponsor of the many orphans in his home planet.
Order of Battle
“One is a mighty beast of fire and iron. The other has tank treads”
- Mechanicus Myrmidon Potem Joule, explaining to Hethgard PDF forces the difference between Friedrich and a Leman Russ Demolisher
In the fighting formations of the Vipers, Friedrich took it upon himself to be a line-breaker, charging where enemy opposition was strongest, destroying tanks and fortifications with his psychic might, or holding the foe until his brothers struck the killing blow. To serve in this task, Friedrich heavily augmented his power armour with additional layers and he once carried a Storm Shield into battle, allowing him to sustain blows that would topple light vehicles and severely damage tanks. Nearly immune to small-arms fire up to Heavy Bolter calibre rounds, Friedrich waded through enemy forces to get to grips with the foe’s most powerful assets. For flexibility, he crafted a Jump Pack to relocate where he is needed, striking at the foe or covering his brothers-in-arms.
Friedrich excels in taking down the strongest the enemy had to offer, though limited by the close range his powers operated in. His signature tactic is to use the Dragon’s Maw to force open armour plating (may it be in a tank or an unfortunate Traitor Legionnaire) and channel his psychic powers through the exposed victims. For massed hordes, Friedrich can hold his own with his other powers, but this is best left to those properly armed for such serried foes. While not the most graceful or skilled combatant, it is in his skill in the forge and Gift that Friedrich excels.
Not one to pull punches, Friedrich prefers to finish his opponents as quickly as possible, even at the expense of his well-being, trusting in his dark lineage to take the blows. Many vehicles have fallen to him, not expecting a single man to defeat (or even survive) their heavy armour’s onslaught. In the use of his Gift, there are no half-measures as he draws deep from the Warp, blasting all to ash and dust. Only the restraint inherent in his power armour prevents him from fully tapping into his potential.
Only in the face of a worthy adversary does Friedrich unleash the fury that can unmake his foes, although he is reluctant to do so outside the auspices of this Chapter.
To sum it up, he is a combat pragmatist who leverages the abilities of an Astartes to make up for his relative lack to finesse in battle. If you’ve seen the early Space Marine gameplay videos, you know what I’m talking about.
Friedrich’s experience in combat draws heavily from facing the forces of Chaos, may it be Traitor Marines, Daemons, cultists or Maletek such as the Slinnar War Machines, who are deviously tailored to check the strengths of the Vipers. Of course, this means that he is intimately familiar in slaying Astartes opponents, exploiting weaknesses of the older marks of power and even their enhanced bodies. That last fact may be a sticking point with fellow Astartes as he seems a little too comfortable with the prospect of slaying other Astartes, traitor or otherwise.
He has only ever encountered Xenos foes that are related to warp, may it be the Chaos-worshipping Rak’Gol, the Warp-Native Enslavers, the Mad Ghanathaar or the insect-like Psychneuein. The Tyranids are a completely new adversary to him. While he has fought them for over half a decade, this is mostly against the “lesser” hordes of gaunts and Synapse creatures such as the Warrior and Hive Tyrant strains. He has only had chance encounters with other more exotic variants such as the Carnifex or Biovores, witnessing them only from afar.
He has never felt the full force of the Shadow of the Warp, as the siege of Hethgard has gone on long enough for the local warp space to stabilize, only leaving a faint malaise in the air.
His harrowing experience within the Mortis Thule has honed his survival instincts to a razor’s edge, able to make do with very little to no resources. While the shifting mass of a Space Hulk is nigh-impossible to chart, he has a knack in spotting hazards unique to that deadly environment. He has also become familiar with the “indigenous” creatures, such as Hullghasts, errant Furies and Genestealers. The less said about the instances where he was forced to use non-imperial technologies, the better.
This was further reinforced with his journeys below An’karrah, the tunnel fighting tactics supplementing his knowledge of similar terrain.
Kept largely in the dark about the nature of the crusade, he still has knowledge about the Warp Gate through his peers in the Mechanicus, although this region of space is entirely unknown to him. From its history before the sector’s fall or the actions of the Crusade at large, all his information is based from stories or gleaned from vox reports.
There are records of Vipers taking the Oath to honour their fellow founding Chapters and while the nature of the service is relatively familiar to him, the oaths of silence on their Brother’s return means that he knows very little about the particulars of that organization. Despite the misgivings of some senior Deathwatch officers, his unusual position as both Librarian and Techmarine means he is entrusted with the ciphers to the librarium and the armouries.
As a foe his Chapter faces constantly, he has gained hard-won practical and technical knowledge about the workings of the Warp and its denizens. From Banishment, Counter-summonings and various Rites of Wardings, he is well equipped to combat and turn back the denizens of the Empyrean. While his Chapter gained the knowledge of such rites from battle and from the Pandaemonium they guard, it would be a matter of concern to the Imperium at large were it to be discovered.
As befitting his role as a War Smith, he is a puissant artisan, having the ear of the machine spirits employed by the Imperium, most especially those of the Astartes or the exotic devices of the Mechanicus. Even his knowledge has limits, however, for he has yet to be inducted into the ranks of the Artificers and the sacred lore they guard. As such, it is still beyond his ability to craft Volkite weaponry or similarly venerated wargear, only knowing the rites of maintenance for such ancient artefacts.
Aside from such limitations, Friedrich is skilled enough to forge Artificer Armour and wargear that would be considered relics in other chapters even with the more modest facilities he was able to salvage from Hethgard.
It comes as no surprise that his powers manifest in the most violent and unsubtle of manners. While he has yet to fully develop his powers, he possesses psychic disciplines that can tear through Land Raiders or even starship plating as if it were parchment. That is not to say he cannot wield his powers in a more controlled manner, since as a Forge Master, it is also his duty to look for aspirants with psychic potential as well as protect his brothers from the warp.
Kill Team Talon
As would be expected from the newest member of the Kill Team, Friedrich is quite oblivious to the history and actions of the Kill-Team, only having seen them in action but once during the Hierophant insertion. While he has yet to make a value judgement on the members, he at least takes comfort that the Black Templars are as reliably belligerent toward his kind as he was taught and that there is a fellow scion of the Mechanicus to rely on.
Recent events have made it known to him that the lines of fealty within the Deathwatch are not as clear-cut as he was lead to believe, but he stays true to maintain the honour his Minotaur brother.
His role is that of a moving strongpoint, by default being immune to damage less than 26, and Penetration of attacks are halved thanks to his armour. He can pretty much ignore small-arms fire and light anti-vehicle weaponry (Assault Cannons, Bolt Weapons, Plasma Weapons, Pulse Weapons, Venom Cannons) and goes for the opposing vehicles and elite units, leaving hordes to the Kill-Team.
If needed, he can also perform fire support with Smite, placing Blast 5 (or 9 with Push) templates on the battlefield. If heavy weapons need to be occupied, he can activate Dragon’s Shell to take the hits and out-shoot enemies or reach melee range to deal the killing blow.
While durable, he still has drawbacks. One, he is really, really slow even with a jump pack and he has difficulty dodging attacks, preferring to parry hits using his Psychic Powers. If he cannot defeat the foe, he can buy time for the Kill Team to regroup or reposition for a different approach. He also has mediocre damage output, and lack of multiple attacks can leave him bogged down with Hordes. His Psychic Powers are also the same, dealing relatively consistent, but not spectacular damage.
Outside of combat, he has relevant skills in Tech-Use and has Psychic Powers which may have utility in a non-combat scenario. His main skill is in his Trade (Artificer), which means he can craft or repair any wargear that the Adeptus Astartes may have or are still using, from the Bolter, the most obscure patterns of the Land Raider or Warship, to even ancient weapons from the Great Crusade, such as Volkite Weapons or older marks of power armour. Of course, his capacity to practice his craft is limited by the resources and time at hand.
Role-play wise, his Chapter is already infamous for its mutations and his actual appearance, if seen, only worsens things. Think of him like a dwarf – slow to trust but those who earn his respect with their deeds has a walking tank to call on for help. He has a habit of speaking out of turn and calls people out if he suspects something is amiss. While he values strategy, his rather stubborn nature means he will keep fighting even when it is unnecessary or unwise to do so.
His main button is regarding the youth and he will most likely fly into a rage if threats, verbal or actual, are aimed at them.
Aspirant and Challenger
“There is a fire in this child that only battle can sate, but never quench”
- Assessment of Friedrich after his Trials
By the nature of their home world, all children were already worthy aspirants, but of course, survival is not the only measure of Astartes.
All aspirants face a full Battle-Brother during their trials, but for those who have the Gift, they face the might of Librarian in a contest of wills. High atop a scorching volcanic caldera, the Librarian assaults the mind of an aspirant, to see if they are strong enough to withstand the hardest of trials first. In this trial, the planet deems fit to erupt amidst them. Many aspirants died in the initial eruption, and the trial was deemed a success for those that survived. However, one aspirant refused to back down from his challenge and both he and the Librarian were consumed by volcano’s fits of violence.
They would both be found days later, but only one would return to the chapter.
“His Gift manifests through Fire – Either in his work in the Forge or in Battle”
- Assessment of Friedrich during his apprenticeship
As all Vipers, he was taught the ways of the forge, for to be welcomed into the Chapter, he must forge his own Wargear to be found worthy. While he was a (relatively speaking) mediocre warrior, it was in artifice and mental skill that he excelled, overcoming with tools and thought what he could not overcome with raw bellicose ability alone. To keep up with his future foes, he created arms and armour of superlative quality. Upon the completion of his panoply, he was initiated into the ways of the Chapter and bestowed the rank of Apprentice, and given a name fitting, some would say in jest, of his nature.
“You will master the Fire in your soul or be consumed by it”
- Judgment proclaimed to Friedrich during the Tempering
In battle, he was found to have within him a fury that would shame a Black Templar. This has led to many times where in his early years, he would achieve great feats, but at the cost of the larger battle.
Things would come to a head during a Chaos incursion on the eve of the 26th Founding, 738.M41. While victorious, the Chapter’s already small force was decimated, with less than enough to field two companies worth of marines. While the specifics of that action are best told elsewhere, Friedrich would be found wanting and becomes subject to “Tempering” as the Chapter calls it. With the proclamation, he is banished, leaving his adopted family in the care of his brothers and sent through the Arx Gate. He did not return after almost a century and declared lost, all the works he left behind, including a near-complete set of Terminator Armour, thrown into a volcano as his funeral pyre.
“Praise your false god with your own blood, Traitor!”
- Friedrich facing down a Khornate Berzerker
Even in his sanctified raiment, the taste and scent permeates the air. Most of the cultists have fled, expecting a crimson berserker, but instead summoning something else entirely. Already the maw that spat him out is losing its grip on the material plane, lashing out tendrils trying to anchor itself to anything in its festering reach. Almost instinctively, he throws a corpse through the maw, which latches onto its prize before disappearing in a sickening pop. The whispers linger a bit longer, but he knows well enough to not listen.
Looking around for threats, he observes the pitted, smoking ground and the familiar, if distant thunder of Basilisk artillery. Imperial Guard comes to mind, although the presence of Chaos may say otherwise. There were other sacrifices lying in wait; bound and wounded soldiers too young to even attempt the Astartes Trials, Guardsmen only in name. Bolt impacts ring out from behind him as the fleeing cultists are cut down by new assailants. From the banks of smoke arrive two warriors clad in red and bronze power armour, grisly trophies hanging from their belts. Spotting the newcomer, the pair charge across the broken ground, chainaxes raised high and battlecries bellowed from their vox grills:
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!
A hundred metres between them, their shots go wide as they sprint with Bolt Pistols aimed in front.
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!
Fifty as the first shots throw dirt around him, even one glancing off his raised shield.
BREAK HIS BACK!
Ten. Throwing their empty sidearms, they charge with their axes in both hands, any sense of tactics cast off along with their pistols. He finally answers in kind.
The Viper lunges low, rushing the first berserker with his shield. The berzerker swings to the side, bypassing the shield and biting hard into his torso. Sharpened teeth from the axe chip off the hardened plate, but more dig deep, the metal finally giving way but stopped by something within. The pain becomes a distant sensation as his Inner Fire consumes him, matching bloodlust with his foes. He activates his Storm Shield on contact, its pulse powerful enough to throw the berserker a clean twenty metres away into one of the craters, landing face up onto the barrel of a wrecked Leman Russ before falling prone to the muddied earth.
Looking to the right for his next target, his pauldron lowers in response to give him sight. This is the opportunity the other berserker was waiting for. Twisting his entire body, he puts all the weight on the axe for a single decapitating chop. Too late to raise his weapon, the Viper sees the axe meet the armoured collar of his gorget; the fatal blow turning to a glancing hit. Off balance from his gambit, the Viper returns the favour.
His massive blade screams as the air ignites into fire and steam. Ethereal fire wreathes the stone as he strikes true, plunging straight through the ceramite breastplate. Willing his fury into manifest power, the traitor burns in soulflame. The traitor explodes in a hideous mix of molten slag and charred flesh, with his weapon taking on a sinister form as blood and steel drip freely between the glowing cracks and veins, no different from a daemon weapon to those he saved.
His rage expended for the moment, he looks to assess the area, but finds the prisoners have started to run, most likely back to their lines. He finds the first berserker crawling up the crater, his power unit crushed beyond repair, leaving him trapped in his armour. With studied recognition, he identifies the mark and goes to work. Canting the rites of decommissioning, he strikes a particular portion of the backpack, releasing a freezing mist that coats his faceplate in frost.
Finished with his task, he walks off away from the Guard lines as the berserker screams profanities and curses upon the Viper, cooked alive by the nuclear heat of his fusion core. He knows not where the Emperor has sent him, but he knows full well where he will send His foes.
“Well he shan’t have mine”
- Friedrich facing down the Headsman of Cellebos
Another horde of heretics charge the Guard lines, mortars and smoke covering their advance. Blind fire can only take so many down before they reach the trenches, drowning the remaining Guardsmen with their numbers.
Friedrich watches from the hill as he slays the last Stigmartus soldier, smashing his skull in with a mortar tube. The Guardsmen are already falling back from their positions, some shot by Commissars from both lines, but the Stigmartus rush on, overwhelming the routed soldiers as another barrage of mortars and smoke rounds launch from another hill for the next trench to clear.
Priming a mortar shell and tossing it into a pile of munitions, Friedrich leaps high as his jump pack roars to life. The explosion grabs the attention of both sides as his crimson, armoured form trails smoke from the burning hilltop. Hydra Autocannons quickly track his approach to the guard lines and the sky lights up around him as shrapnel bursts in close proximity. By dint of fate, metal shards pass through the armoured exhaust ports of the jump pack and the turbines erupt from their housing as the Viper falls from the blood-red skies.
The ground obscured by smoke and battle, his mind reaches out to a place beyond and his form is shrouded in witchfire. Like a stone cast from heaven, he crashes into the fog of war, plowing the earth and taking at least a dozen Stigmartus to their graves. Rising up from the streaked crater, obscured forms battle all around him and he hears the distinct crack of a Power Field. Friedrich rushes to the source, trampling and shoving aside the lesser foes in his path until he reaches its source.
He comes to a sliding stop in the muddied earth as he arrives too late to affect a duel’s outcome. A body wearing a greatcoat slides down a banner, with its head now held aloft by her killer. In an action that looks to have been done many times over, this servant of Khorne plants the head atop his new banner while the Guardsmen all around flee now that what courage they had died with their Lord Commissar. Satisfied with his victory, the Traitor now turns his murderous gaze on the Viper.
“Too late to save her now, Loyalist!”
He caresses the cheek of the Commissar, whose eyes betray life in her final moments.
Friedrich turns his helm to her, and in that moment his armour shimmers with unnatural heat.
“Yeesss! Let rage and hate fill you, Brother! Become a servant in Khorne’s name!”
The Traitor plants the banner once more, the Stigmartus running past them as they seek their next conquest.
“You will suffer for that, heretic!”
Friedrich charges forward, crushing a Guardsman in his blind fury as his foe draws forth his vile weapon. From Friedrich’s blade erupts a volcanic plume of fire, engulfing the Traitor.
“Your petty sorceries will not save you, Loyalist!”
With but a sweep, this Champion of Khorne cleaves through the burning conflagration and raises his blade to finish the Loyalist who is sure to be just behind the flames. With the instincts of a sharpened warrior, he ducks down to dodge a blow unseen and swings wide behind him, connecting with the Viper’s shield.
“I’ve seen that gambit many times over in Terra, whelp!”
Locking his blade’s crossguard to the shield, he pulls down and back with one armoured boot on the sword’s point, wrenching the shield away and pulling the Viper off balance. Catching the falling Viper with his free hand, he slams his helm into the mud, and drops his blade for the killing blow. The blade digs an inch deep into the plating before sliding to a side and planting into the dirt.
As he pulls the blade back, Friedrich’s free hand had clamped shut on it, and riding the upward momentum, was already back on his feet as unholy energies radiate from his iron grip. Seizing the initiative, he slams the flat face of his blade into the traitor’s shoulder, enough force for the reactive plating to detonate, shoving the warrior off-balance. Releasing his grip at the last moment, he holds his blade for a two-handed sweep. Right, before impact, the traitor swings to the side to check the blow, but the force was still enough to push him back a good two metres across the mud. The two stand apart, the banner just a few steps away from both of them as more shells detonate around them.
“You fight well, Loyalist, you lasted longer than the others”
Friedrich stays silent, righting his blade and holding his ground. The traitor’s eyes fall on his pauldron, his gaze taking in his Chapter’s heraldry.
“I know not your Chapter, but I know you now. You shall be my next quarry, and Khorne shall have his due!”
More shells fall and finally Guardsmen have pushed into the smoke, and in the chaos the Headsman of Cellebos disappears, and the hunt begins anew.
“I go where the Emperor wills. This should be simple enough to understand, Victoria”
- Conversation transcript between Friedrich and Inquisitor Victoria, date and location purged
He would speak little of his odyssey through the Eye of Terror, but from his battered armour and dulled weapons, it was a trying journey. Of what he would say, he claims that he eventually found himself adrift in the Space Hulk Mortis Thule, where he was able to effect crude repairs to his arms and armour with a strange metal he found from xenos corpses. He claimed that he found remnants of a crew of an Imperial courier vessel, The Emperor’s Gaze, huddled around their failing Gellar Field generator.
Some of the crew saw in the Astartes the saviour that they prayed for, while others see only a messenger of their punishment. The crew had apparently – to his understanding – been split into two groups, although he was not party to the details of the schism. Unable to protect the crew and to avoid unwanted attention drawn to them, he repaired the machine as best he could and left them be, trusting the Emperor to protect them. Of note is that the Deathwatch would find small samples of the same metal (classified as Metal X-1794) on planets within the Slinnar Drift, deepening the mystery of the metal’s true providence.
Of his escape, he told of an opportunistic chartist captain that came upon the Hulk, where he was able to barter passage with the items he discovered. Aboard the Limitless Grasp, the captain, one Olympia Thyartria, would tell of her route to the sector’s capital Verronus. On translating back to realspace, he claims a warp phenomenon shattered the vessel, casting him through one of the baleful portals in Khazant, to the deadly surprise of the cultists. While the Mechanicus would vet for the purity of the metal (after a very generous sample donation), it would be another year of enduring tests and confinement before he is allowed to take leave and return from whence he came.
“Your Oath is my Oath and your Crusade is our Crusade”
- Common pledge of Vipers to those their Kindred Founding
The ramp lowers with a faint hiss, air escaping the pneumatic actuators from lax maintenance rituals. The sole passenger looks back to the pilot, but his armoured form betrays no expression. No sooner as he alights, does the lander depart, another taking its place, and more floating above and below. The many ratings and menials make effort to avoid his path, busy with the tasks of their bosuns and no doubt eager to show their loyalty and faith to the new visitor.
This visitor takes note, but his gaze lies elsewhere. Already a servo-skull floats nearby, broadcasting a vox-beacon to him. It gives navigation markers inside the station, towards a vessel moored portside. The Harvest of Scintilla has been docked for over a month, unloading megatons of various cargo; from chattel, munitions and rations, anything that could possibly be used and consumed in the crusade’s ravenous gullet is sent planetside to Hethgard.
His journey leads him to one of the many docking bays tending to the Mass Conveyor. From the vantage of a high gantry, it looks as if it is the station that is docked with the huge voidship, easily the size of his home hive city. Pushing off a rail, he aims towards a Mechanicus delegation, tending to the massive vault doors of the vessel. Venting the exhaust from his power armour, he stops before the group, whose mechadendrites have long monitored his approach.
Signs of the Cog are exchanged as they welcome one of their kin:
Omnissiah’s Blessing upon you, Praetor of Arx
One among the group greets the Viper in the common monotone of Techpriests, her robe bearing the marks of one affiliated with the Lathe Worlds.
The Light of Knowledge shine on you, Magos
The Viper’s head bows in deference to one more senior in the Omnissiah’s secrets.
We have been informed of your quandary via the Praecursator Grid, and indeed we have surplus mass and volume to accommodate you within the Harvest for the return journey
The clicking arrays in the Magos’ cranium tap incessantly as she speaks, tabulating inventories and calculating transit forecasts of over a million items being unloaded.
My thanks, wise Magos, I shall repay your service in kind as soon as I am able
Already the Viper makes ready to leave the delegation but the Magos has more information to pass.
However, there is one variable you must consider. Another of your Founding is here. He has been recalled from the Deathwatch for a mission into the Maelstrom Zone, but denied passage within the Harvest so that you may board
Her mechadendrites wander about, eventually pointing to a single direction.
I believe that you already know my response
The Viper turns to the pointed direction, spying an Astartes from the Minotaurs brooding beside a macro-pallet.
Indeed, the necessary amendments have been made in the manifest, and the Deathwatch has been notified. I also wish to inform you that a colleague Magos has requested I send this missive to one bearing your description
With that, the Techpriests depart, returning to their duties. For his part, the Viper will have something to discuss with his kin.
“I told you he could do it! You owe me a hundred Thrones, um, Sir”
- A Guardsmen winning a bet with a Commissar-Cadet in Hethgard
The blasted and tainted earth is revealed as the sun casts first light from behind the Ordinatus Turbo Laser. Its long spiking shadow points toward the outer walls, an unspoken command to attack for the next regiment of Imperial Guard. Trailing behind the military procession are the Tech Priests of Mars, corralling giant machines that lay down steel and rockrete; the makings of an armoured magtrain rail. After the first few kilometres, the clouds above scream downwards, an unnatural thunder heralding the fall of deadly rain.
Friedrich looks up from the lumbering machine, the sight almost mundane to him, but his Oath compels action. With but a look to the Skitarii below, they form around the tracks, combat routines already awakening from within their neural engrams. Weapons raised, the soldiers of Mars open fire, bursts of flame erupt from the descending deluge, their Immolation rifles burning all that close in. Soon enough, the deadly tide overwhelm their guns and the they press their advantage in numbers. A strength even the Imperium cannot easily bring to bear against the Tyranids.
Dozens of winged monstrosities push their way through the vents of the great machine, heeding the will of their Hive Mind. Too many to kill and too little time to do so, Friedrich eyes the largest creature, its baleful presence in the Warp casting a blinding shadow to his senses. With the ignition of his jump pack, he puts all his weight to his left shoulder, smashing past the xenos and into their leader-beast. The pair crash through a rockrete barrier before skidding along the laid mag-plates, sparks and shards of chitin flying.
As they roll to a stop in their deadly embrace, the beast latches on his legs, using the momentum to catapult the spinning Viper into the giant valves of a promethium tank. The impact crushes his jump pack and the pressure seals, the volatile fumes setting him alight. Undeterred by the immolating flames, he charges on foot, fire pooling on his footfalls as the beast unfurls its wings, the torn membranes already reforming. Faster than the Astartes could reach, it leaps, not enough to fly, but enough to buy time. More creatures fall from the skies to halt his burning form, their combined numbers enough to trap the Viper in the crushing tide of claws and teeth. Summoning the unnatural processes of its body, the beast spits out a globule of plasma, destroying its minions in a spark of sunlight.
From the charred heap emerges the Viper, unharmed by the blow, surrounded by witch-light. Summoning his own unnatural powers, he strains against the creature’s shadow to draw out fire. With a shout, an inferno erupts from his outstretched fist, the beast and everything above it consumed in hellfire. Soon enough the smaller creatures flee, all direction lost from them and the guard receiving some semblance of respite, for already the next cloud starts to descend.
“A Cog – a subject that performs a vital task, but goes unnoticed or unrecognized”
- A common Mechanicus term
Stationed in Hethgard for almost half a decade, he busies himself with his trade, in the forge and in battle. The high command of the Deathwatch and the Crusade are wary of him, so he seldom receives direct orders. Instead, he finds duty in guarding the giant land trains that travel between hive cities, protecting vital cargo and to help maintain the ancient machines. In between such self-appointed missions, he is said to visit Depth 1281, collaborating with Artisan Thol Xannaster, the most senior Mechanicus present in Hethgard. When he emerges from that place, he carries with him strange weaponry which he uses on the Tyranids before he once again returns for maintenance rites.
Eventually, he found himself further and further away from the forges as he is needed more often in combat duties, but he maintains his Chapter’s ways through his arms and armour, giving them their rightful ministrations. Fortunately, the rank and file guardsmen know nothing of his heritage and find inspiration in his presence, and that he is agreeable to field modifications of kit can only help. While not the most personable of the Astartes, his actions boost the morale of the guardsmen, especially when he takes on the leader-beasts of the Tyranids in single combat.
His image amongst the common soldiers is at odds with the views of their superiors, but they cannot deny that the Hammer of the Emperor fights that much harder when one of the Astartes is amongst them. Friedrich for his part is more concerned with the challenge that the Tyranids pose, and the achievements he can earn fighting them. His deeds have earned him the attentions of Brother-Captain Kynar Half-Hand who has accused the Viper of staining the honour of the Storm Wardens for his unwanted assistance in the different combat zones in Hethgard. Things have yet to come to a head between the two, with Steward Militant Lukas Vierling requesting Friedrich to assist in holding remote firebases, desperate as he is to have the support of the Storm Wardens. Kynar will not be denied in matters of honour and will see to it that Friedrich is shown up to be the coward that he truly is.
For his part, Friedrich was sent away to support the guard regiments in holding the tunnel entrances of distant An’karrah, the former last bastion of the rebellious population when the Imperium returned. The brutal and unrelenting nature of the tunnel fighting plays to his strengths as he presses forward with guardsmen in tow. However, beyond a certain depth, he forges onward alone, the tunnels giving way to the ancient underhive and the final hiding places of the traitors.
There are rumours that far worse things than Tyranids lurk in those blasphemous environs, and when Friedrich returns from his deep patrols covered in gore other than that of the Tyranids, the guard give him a wider berth. It helps matters little that individuals said to be from the Holy Ordos come to debrief him after every such sortie. What he has seen below is never asked by the commanding officers lest they too invite the attentions of the Left Hand of the Emperor.
He would be contacted by an Inquisitor one fateful day in 814.M41, to assist in certain matters.
“Dig too deep, and eventually you’ll end up burying yourself”
- Saying among the Far Patrols of An’karrah
The air turns from stale to rancid as tunnels turn to worsening states of decay. The red, flashing rune on the Janissary’s auspex signals the rest of the squad to don their respirators. Over half a kilometre into the underhive, the assault squads of the Maccabian 16th make slow progress down the creaking railways, their heavy armour a liability in such conditions. Passing a fallen auto-carriage, the squad forms around the wreck, preysense goggles looking all around as one of them crawls inside. This deep into the earth, vox relays must be placed and maintained for commands, and perhaps more importantly, morale.
Peering out of a broken window, he gives the all clear and pushes himself out of through the opening, his breastplate scraping the rockrete floor. Far across the broken bridge a light flashes intermittently, and one of them responds in kind before moving on. The routes intersect every so often, so support is never far off. Save for the occasional beep of the auspex, they shroud themselves in silence to avoid attention, all communication in combat-signs or preset vox-clips. All food is heated chemically and sleep is rotated in shifts.
After a week, on the ledge of a hab block, they reach the end of their ordered route and the start of their return to the forward base. Rappelling down the ruined balconies and alcoves below, each take position in the dark living quarters as more of them climb down. Only darkness lies below and before the structure, a tiny thing swallowed within the huge domes of the former mid-hive, with pale columns of light barely reaching from breaches above.
The first two make contact with the ground and take positions for the squad. Far ahead of them, beyond their sight, rocks unsettle, clattering down to the ground. Taking cover, one flashes her lux-torch twice, waiting for a response. The seconds pass and no answer, some of the squad already taking firing positions from their high ground. The distinct crack of a las discharge strikes the building, and the Janissaries open fire, sending shots to a structure they know to be on the other side of the artificial valley. The vox is hailed for any Imperials in the area as the two below throw frag grenades forward, hearing the noisome footfalls of this place’s inhabitants.
Preysense goggles are pulled off as a bright light shines above the middle of the valley, the ruddy, red glow of a flare launched from a mortar. Those below gain sight of their foes, dozens of disfigured creatures, some carrying the remains of another squad as trophies and others salvaging the armour and weapons. Some were slain by their grenades, but more come streaming in from the side streets, unarmed save for sharpened sheets of metal at best. Those above in the balconies fare better as they expend ammunition to suppress their foes, but the threat below cannot be ignored. Their firepower split, the heretics start to fire back, heavy stubbers and a mortar gaining better aim with every salvo.
Grenades are exhausted to keep the thronging mass at bay, but even power packs run dry from the sheer number of foes. The corpses become obstacles for advance, but cover as well for the horde no doubt gathering on the other side. Switching tactics, the squad gives cover for the two to climb back up, seeing the hundreds massing to overrun them. Pushing down the wall of bodies, the heretics charge, confident their numbers will overwhelm. A mortar round strikes home on the lip of the roof, the anchors coming loose and the two Janissaries crashing down. One falls a story down to a jutting rockrete spar, barely holding on, while the other one lands on top of the horde. Torn and stabbed in all directions, she pulls the cord of a demolition pack as a last act of defiance, and soon bodies and limbs fly out in all directions from the detonation, those creatures far enough grabbing the bloody chunks and scurrying off back to the darkness.
Half of them dead and not enough power packs to arm what’s left of them, the survivors run up to the roof, intent on losing the foe in the ruins. Mortars dog their steps as a rolling barrage pushes their retreat. Three rooftops into their run, a blast rings behind them, and soon the shells stop falling. A kilometre away now from the battle, the sound of running firefights can be heard around and below them, vox chatter giving status reports and requests for reinforcements.
Below in a substructure, a blast unsettles dust from the ceiling, falling in thin sheets. Blood mixes with dirty, oily pools on the rusted floor as the last Genestealer is slain. His armour rent and punctured in a dozen places, reason returns to Friedrich as he pulls his blade from the blossomed ribcage of his foe. The breaches slowly close shut into metal scabs as he sweeps around, observing the falling dust. He swings his shield upward as he makes a realization: No dust was falling upon him. A great weight presses upon the shield, its power field shunting something away, which lands behind debris.
Without hesitation, he charges the pile, smashing aside obstacles and keeping his shield raised. Two strands of sinew shoot out from his left, wrenching his shield from his grip as he spins off-balance. As he regains his footing, a creature of claws and fangs lunges behind him, clawing at his helm. Struggling as his assailant rips his helmet asunder, he fires his jump jets, crushing it on the pipes of the roof before he falls to his knees on landing. Blinded by the assault, his helmet is all but ruined as he struggles to move, almost dodging the next blow. With unnatural aim, a spike punches through one of the metal scabs, leaving his left forearm dangling only by the fibre bundles and his sinew. Another hits home on top of his exposed right knee, trapping him in place as the spike burrows right through bone into the ground.
The Lictor chose its moment well, now grasping at Friedrich’s head with its two clawed hands. His right arm blocked by the scything talon, and his left arm all but useless. The Lictor’s taloned claws tense as they slowly pull apart his helm. At the last moment, Friedrich unleashes his powers at point blank, consuming both of them in inescapable hellfire. Far above, towers of fire erupt for blocks, illuminating a small district’s worth of structures. Friedrich and the Lictor stay in their deadly embrace; both charred beyond recognition from the ordeal. With a last effort, Friedrich pushes the brittle, blackened spikes from his body, turning to ash at his touch.
Already his supernatural constitution is at work, cursing him to live as he falls down, alien blood mixing with his own on the tainted floor. He still has two kilometres down in his patrol.
I pray this transmission finds you functioning.
I received information that someone of your description was recorded by Agents of the Dragon. However improbable that you somehow survived for almost a century in the Empyrean, it was decided among us that we would send a short missive only you can decipher.
We have grown much in your absence. Virta passed the Trials and is now an Apprentice, no doubt to avenge those many we lost. He takes after you well, earning the title Blixt Tordenskiold in the Naming. Koski was just as blessed, and now endeavours to strike out on his own as a marksman, now known as Kivääri Frimodig, already making a competition of it with Virta. They still chafe when I call them by their “young” names. They have joined a mission to purge the world of Samech, hoping to perhaps find word of you, wherever you may be
I myself have been instructed in the ways of the Factors. I know you desired me to have a more mundane life as a Biologis on our moon, but I suppose your stubbornness did affect all of us in some way. Soon after this missive, I will be sent off to the Calixis Sector at the behest of the Mechanicus regarding resources for a crusade elsewhere.
But as you wished, I did not perform the Rite of Pure Thought. Consider it the Omnissiah’s Blessing that some of your adopted sons and daughters still heed your advice.
On a last note, if you do still persist in the service of the Omnissiah, know that the Vipers have deemed you decommissioned on your Tempering and save for the Rathos plinth, have sacrificed your belongings. I do pray you were not grossly invested in them.
Gloriam ex Machina.
Big Game Hunter
“Of course, the prize of knowledge is worth every risk in this endeavour”
- Friedrich in negotiation with a liaison
Friedrich would be summoned to Bastion Primaris once more, but this time on the request of a different Ordos. Come riding upon a gigantic land train just before midnight, the many guardsmen would avoid the blood-drenched Viper and the few Wardens he meets look on in disgust and disapproval. This is a common occurrence every time he returns, as are the salutations he receives from the Techpriests. He makes his way for a large elevator, flanked by Skitarii soldiers. Even with the summons, he will honour his wargear and brethren first.
High atop the Ordinatus firing chamber, a climb of over a thousand steps, he would meet his summoner, among other less savoury characters. His Chapter’s reputation precedes him as accusations are immediately flung by the Red Scorpion present, regarding his mutations and fall from grace. Already used to such vitriol, he simply answers the Scorpion with his Gift, prompting even more threats. Looking upon the assembled host, he immediately singles out the Noble Pilot and Techmarine as kindred, if removed once or twice.
As is the ways of his Chapter, he takes stock of the others, gazing upon their auras in the warp. The Inquisitor in particular was noted, for she too bore the Gift, and did not seem to care for his Chapter’s lineage. The stately dinner would go on as he conversed with the Inquisitor in secret, and found her agreeable enough. While many things would transpire that night, it would be their mission to retrieve a sample from a Hierophant that would take his attention. He had faced far worse foes, but he did so with his brothers at his side. How his new compatriots would go about this hunt is something that worries him.
He is unsure if any of them had faced such odds before, and reckons that none of them, save the Noble Pilot or the Techmarine would deign to converse with him. He casts his mind back to the Siege of Arx, where the assembled hordes of Chaos clashed with the might of the Vipers and the Mechanicus. He recalls charging the corrupted Land Raiders and Titans with his brothers, striking with Melta and Plasma, destroying them from within. He remembers the madness of the previous Baron as his Knight was overcome by the malignant spirits of Chaos, as the Baron watched on in impotent rage as his Knight killed his kin, before being brought low by his heir.
Friedrich has never faced a bio-titan in battle and must prepare for the trial to come. For this mission, he shall have to requisition a few items from his peers.
“Wise Magos, I request permission to take advantage of your mighty forge”
- Friedrich in conversation with a ranking Magos
After a visit to Depth 1281, Friedrich is hailed by Draegor, a Wolf of Fenris and their squad leader for the mission. He found the Wolf’s ways strange although he seemed ignorant – or uncaring – of the stories surrounding the Vipers. Soon enough, the Knight behind them rumbles to life and Diego, the Noble Pilot, bids them to stand aside. Nostalgia gets the better of Friedrich as he climbs atop the Knight, magboots planting him firmly on the adamantium hull. Draegor, not one to be shown up, climbs the legs up to the heavy stubbers as the Knight strides to the training field. Coordinating with Diego, the Astartes take out the soft targets while the Knight focuses on the larger targets.
Friedrich watches the performance of the Knight, its weaponry making short work of the targets. He wonders if its weaponry are suited to the mission; their range means the Knight will take punishing blows just to close in, and the Hierophant will not be alone. As his mind wanders, he loses focus as he misses his targets, though Diego repositions to take care of them with his heavy stubbers. Snapping out of his reverie, Friedrich focuses on the last group of targets just over a hundred metres away. Picking up the slack, he channels the powers of the Warp as his stone blade glows from infernal heat. Ethereal flames licking exposed surfaces, he unleashes a great gout of fire as the last targets are utterly consumed.
The training complete, Friedrich looks up the walls as a company of guardsmen take aim, no doubt taking umbrage at the display of power. The standoff is broken when the company commander orders his men to stand down, no doubt unwilling to start a conflict of which he will be held responsible. Friedrich takes little offense at the reaction of the guardsmen, receiving the same treatment in An’karrah. While they are ignorant of a great many things, he and his Kill-Team will rely on them when the time comes.
The mission was a success.
… Yes, both servitors are intact.
… No, they were unaware of their secondary functions.
… The Raven was unaware of the task as instructed.
… The Hellbore was damaged, but I can effect repairs in three standard Terran days.
… It was well worth the risk, and the spirits were aware of the dangers.
… I am sure the Crucible will be appreciative of the samples, as well as the data.
… If you would excuse me, I must attend to the Kill-Team. Their armour was compromised by the bio-acids, and the Machine Spirits call out to me.
… Yes, I am confident that I will be able to collect an acceptable sample size from their surfaces.
… Regarding our arrangement, is the delivery to the Darkest Before Dawn…
… Of course. Gloriam ex Machina.
“Truly, these creatures are an affront to the optics of the Omnissiah”
- A Magos Biologis on the Tyranids
Friedrich marches past the Techronomicon, through combat servitors and Skitarii, the Opus Machina upon his pauldron announcing his allegiance. The meeting with the Watch Captain left a bitter taste in him. Fortunate, he muses, that his Chapter did not take the Apocrycphon Oath, witnessing for himself the Brotherhood that amounts to as much ash a cold furnace.
The low hum of a servo-skull accompanies him as he enters a circular room, large enough to catch the foot of a Titan. The walls have great lifts built into them, the room forming the inside of cog, and the floor plating forming a mosaic of the icon of the Mechanicus. Some of the lifts were missing, with but a draft threatening to gutter the candles indicating the travelling platforms below. Others lined by bonded serfs, carrying all kinds of materiel. Menials and machine alike move aside for his hulking form as he steps upon an unused lift, the grav-plates anchoring him to the platform.
The gravitic pull increases enough to cause the servo-skull to falter for a moment, before the lift starts its descent. The fall is fast, enough to defy the terminal velocity in Hethgard’s gravity. But just as abrupt as it started, the lift slows down, amber runes indicating the destination. With a sound like a great bell, the lift touches the floor, as air squeezes between the gaps. Sheets of dust shoot upwards, immediately sucked in by filters overhead.
One by one, the attendant servo-skull lights the candles along the path ahead, the tallow pooling all along the floor. Alone, in this dark path, the hiss of decompression emanates from his helmet, the cloying scent of rendered wax heavy in the air. A large bulkhead bars the way, the sounds of industry and machinery heard through the portal. The gate falls outward, like a drawbridge from a feudal world. All round the Tech-priests go about their sacred duties, attending to the arcane devices strewn about the halls. The room gives him a sense of place, a belonging he only found amongst his Chapter.
In a sealed room, avoided by all others, Friedrich’s presence wakes the machine spirits, glow-globes and stab-lights flickering to life. Cradles built to carry power armour are arranged In a semi-circle before him. Save two, all are occupied, with their attendant wargear at the sides. Lifted high upon chains, they cast down their empty gazes upon him, their shadows all converging upon him.
Willing the door behind him shut. He begins his labours.
“No, Myrmidon, there have been no seismic disturbances logged in the Thermal Sinks”
- A Magos Geologis on the recurring tremors
Friedrich pushes up the debris above him, servos straining under the crushing weight. Just as there is room enough to move, familiar parts and pieces fall from the darkness above. With the speed of thought, his mind and body go tense as something crashes on him. It takes him through no less than two ferrocrete floors before coming to a loud stop in an empty storage room. With supreme effort, he drags himself from under his prison, a lambent barrier separating him and his prison just enough to slide past.
Pulled free, he stands up to see the shattered remains of the Hellbore, the wrecked hull falling to the side without his body supporting it. Checking his person, he find his wargear intact, save for Firebrand. Sweeping his vision around, the dark space is lit only by stabs of light, flickering as many figures dash past them. Whispering the Rites of Decommissioning, he wrenches free a spar of adamantium from the machine’s carcass. A crude enough substitute tool for the task at hand. Jamming the metal through a bulkhead, he anchors himself to the floor as he twists his torso, the portal slowly giving way. Through the dull scent of smoke and incense, he can already smell the pheromones of a familiar foe.
Biding his time, he steps back from the unhinged door, waiting for the right moment. Through his Inner Fire, he can sense a bitter wind coming closer. As what little light passing through the opening disappears, he lunges forward, shield up and jump pack firing. The impact throws the bulkhead out, along with a passenger on the other side to the opposing wall. Falling into a combat stance, he watches the bulkhead for movement, as he engages his storm shield. The slab of adamantium falls, revealing a crushed Tyranid Warrior, twitching it’s last moments. Finding the lesser creatures scampering to the darkness, he moves forward, intent on reclaiming his – and his kill team’s – wargear.
The corridors are strewn with debris and the dead, the air already becoming dry and stale as the systems start to fail as the power is abruptly cut short. With a few words, his helmet seals and he grips the metal bar tighter, the walls seeming to close in on him, as he relives his moments in the Mortis Thule. Shadows, both physical and spiritual dance in his sight, trepidation dictating his every step. He cannot sense his weapon under such conditions, blinded by as he is by the Hive Mind. Every creak of metal and glint of reflection becomes a suspect, as the skitter of xenos is heard around every corner.
Finally coming upon the chamber, he witnesses the prone and sprawled forms of their armour, some wholly intact, while other as splayed across the broken floor, undamaged, but dismembered by their fall. He looks at the lifeless shells, fearful for the Machine Spirits, but something else gnaws on his already disturbed mind. Attempts to hail the Kill-Team fail, over a kilometre of earth blocking vox signals and relays destroyed or out of commission. Looking around the ruined forge, combat instincts take over as he notes all points of ingress and egress, available cover and wargear, among them his weapon of choice.
Reunited with Firebrand, he resolves to protect his charges unto death.
Praetors of Talon
“Have at them, Brothers! The Hive Mind shall know soon enough the taste of the deadly Talon!”
- Brother-Sergeant Erzell of the Arc Knights
Erzell leads the way through the steaming veins of the Hive Ship. Makaon has proven himself once again as a formidable pilot and the insertion was a success. Even now, Kill Team Talon makes it’s way from within the vile creature, marking for death the Norn-Queen at it’s core. Cohollo ranges far ahead, fighting and leading the defender organisms away, so that Mason can ply his trade, marking routes and opportunities. Many kilometres of flesh tunnels lie before the Kill Team and they must be swift.
Brothers Elyas, Draegor, and Cassius form the core of their firebase, gunning down foes from afar while Sister Mina holds those who get through at arm’s length. Only the strongest to survive their withering fire, and even then they have to face the vanguard. Brothers Erzell, Lucius, Makaon and Friedrich hold the flanks, in the thick of it and each coming to his own.
Erzell is the tip of the spear, following the directions of Mason to their target. With the Ardent Blaze in hand, the chargers are cut down and those who face him do not survive the second swing, sliding through chitin with divine accuracy. Claws and talons find no purchase; their crude strikes cannot compare to the Storm Wardens he fought beside. Makaon fights not the creatures of the horde, but the tide of teeth and flesh, as a sailor might sail the seas. With the ebb and flow of the foe, he keeps to the center of the rushing mass, the eye of the storm of spear and shield. With the sharp eye of a fisherman, glints of steel shoot from him, each striking home in the skulls of the vile beasts. His shield is ever vigilant, thwarting blows and pushing aside the rest into the guns of his Kill Team.
Lucius fights as a man possessed, litanies of fury on his lips and each strike a deadly baptism in battle. Every swing exact in precision, the momentum of one flowing into another as more and more are cut down. No foe leaves unscathed from his dervish and those who weather the storm lie crippled, easy picking for the rest. Even in his trance, the Black Templar watches the Viper, always waiting to be vindicated in his dogma.
Friedrich does not match the skill of his Battle Brothers, indeed, many of the Tyranids swarm to him over the others. Biting, slashing and stabbing, dozens come upon him to pull him down to the heaving floor. But this is where he excels, to hold the foe at bay. Through his skill in forgecraft, his armour does not yield and his psychic soul is a shining beacon to them, an irresistible target for the leader-beasts to direct their forces to.
As the rest finish with their marks, Friedrich gives the signal. While some of them hesitate, Lucius levels his Storm Bolter and opens fire at the Viper as the rest follow suit. The thronging mass thins out, and Friedrich is finally seen, ichor covering every surface of his armour. The Kill Team now take more careful aim, picking off the stragglers and firing well away from the Viper. Lucius makes no such adjustment, sustaining fire at full-auto. At such a range, many Bolts hit their mark, striking his armoured surfaces. The munition fares no better than the Tyranids as they glance off or fail to penetrate, detonating around the Astartes.
The two stare at each other through their helmets, the Storm Bolter silent from expending its magazine. It does not take one with the Gift to know who Lucius was aiming at.
“… and so the Javar Gates were Warded, their locations Sealed for all time”
- Excerpt from Vol. I of the Mechanicus Jericho
Information whisks by the mind of the Viper, many voices competing for his attention as the history of Jericho floods his consciousness.
Hereditary lines, tithing schedules, planetary gazettes. No doubt important facts to his Inquisitor, but inconsequential to his quest. Across from him lie the last treasures of 1281, shards of obsidian tagged to the planet of Baraban, as claimed by the dataslate recovered along with it. The voices quiet as he disconnects from the cogitator core, not with the crude pull of a wire, but through the invisible strands of his MIU. Already the core grows dark, its machine spirit returning to its hibernation cycles as he turns to his next task.
Two plinths stand side by side, various mechanical arrays and materials laid out ceremonially in an altar behind them. He has been obliged to make suitable replacements for the Watch Captain’s limbs, regardless of his opinions on the matter. The fact that other Astartes cannot recover from such injuries piques his curiosity, but such topics are the provenance of their Apothecary. Whispering the Canticles of Fabrication, his hands move with precise motions, assembling fibre bundles and adamantium struts to form the basic shape of the legs. Perhaps the Ultramarine would prefer they bear similarities to flesh and blood, as he muses applying flesh grafts upon them, but decides otherwise. Avincus would most certainly be more concerned with their utility than any semblance of sentimentality.
The adamanium plates were already white from the heat of his jump pack, a utility that has served him well in times past. Handling the plates by his armoured hand, he pounds the metal into shape upon his shield, with force enough to trigger its protective field as lightning arcs from his work. With the tip of his taloned fingers, he engraves filigrees and laurel leaves in the pliable metal, a feat of craftsmanship to match the position of its receiver. Satisfied with the initial shapes, he plunges the wrought metal into vats of sacred oils, igniting into fire as the plates dip into the clear liquid.
The entire process a culmination of a fortnight’s labour – from the processing of raw materials to the repeated working of the metals, the sacred rites of assembly and supplication, to finally the secret name that all such works possess. All the while, the Viper worked tirelessly, not giving thought to rest or respite, as if running from an impending deadline. At the end, his work complete, he steps back from the plinths, a set of azure and gold limbs worthy of their bearer. One last rite remains. Taking a vial from a secured vault, he anoints the connection joints with the blood of their first custodian. If there will be another is known only to the Emperor.
Secured in a Bloodbolt case with the same sanguine sample, he has a servitor carry his parcel to the Inquisitor. No doubt she will use it as leverage with the Captain. A thought that brings satisfaction to Friedrich. As the servitor turns to leave, it lists to the side, opposite to the arm carrying the case, as if pushed upwards by its cargo. The sight coaxes his mind back to earning the title of War Smith, assigned to one of their moon’s agri-hubs. Creating servitors and Rhinos for labour, many of their hub’s youth helped in the harvest, some working as assistants to his trade.
Many would challenge him for a place in the Vipers, although many were persuaded otherwise after the broken bodies of their friends were turned into one of the mindless labourers when they failed. One, however, was determined to earn his place. Again and again, this hopeful aspirant challenged him. From trials of endurance in the artificial climes of the hubs, to tests of strength as his he contested with the strength of servitors. Friedrich glows with approval for the child, holding much potential to become a Neophyte. However, in the trials of speed, a macro-thresher caught him at the end of the Acre Run. Friedrich turned around, expecting to see a bloody mist from behind the machine, but instead found the determined child crawling, reaching the end even as his legs and lower torso were turned to bloody chunks in the machine’s whirring teeth. Such an act dispelled all doubt about his worthiness, but even the greatest Forge Master could not stave off death for more than a fortnight. He had crafted sublime cybernetics to replace his legs, but instead they now find home in a stasis altar, dedicated to the trials and determination of a child who stood tall even once laid low.
Snapping out of the reverie as the alarm klaxons of Warp Translation blare, he makes way for the bridge. As he turns his back from the shards, he indulges in a single wish.
Bear your custodian swiftly to battle, Stride of Rathon.
“That press is an affront to the machine spirit! Honour them the old fashioned way, with a hammer and the sweat of your brow!”
- Forge Master Harl Greyweaver
The heat and noise of industry is a fact of life in the forges of Erioch, the many servants of the Omnissiah toiling to meet the needs of the Deathwatch. The ventilation systems cannot keep up with the fumes and any who stay there gather about them a layer of dark ash. Weapons, munitions and other specialized wargear all travel through here eventually to receive the ministrations of the servants of Mars. Gazing down on the labourers are the totems and effigies of the Iron Wolf, set there by the most senior Forge Master himself.
Standing in the center of a giant Opus Machina set on the flagstone floor, two Techmarines face off as the gathered crowd only grows. Cassius stands to the side, observing how things will play out.
“I’ve heard ill omens about your kind. Show me how you honour the Omnissiah, boy”
Pointing at the furnace and arrayed tools to the side, the other walks to the well stocked workshop
“What is required of me, Forge Master?”
Eying the tools one by one, he find all of them familiar in some way, but chooses none of them
“What’s the matter Viper? Are the tools of Erioch beneath you?”
Greyweaver’s white brows touch as the Viper turns to him
“No, I prefer my creations hand crafted”
His body starts to take on the white heat of the furnace as he reaches deep to grasp a bar of adamantium and holds it aloft with his armoured hand
The shouting Forge Master slams his hammer into the broken stones and is held back from another blow by the surrounding Techmarines
The Edict of Banishment was quickly enacted for the Viper, the Master of the Vigil not involving himself with such matters. Even in the face of such censure, the Viper still works to supply Erioch with wargear from his forge in the Darkest Before Dawn. His first creation for the Deathwatch was a strange variant of the Bolt weapon. The so-called Mauler “Bolt Cannon” used the caliber of weapons used in the Fire Raptor, but portable enough for an Astartes to wield in battle. The more traditional Chapters saw such it as suspect and refused to requisition such wargear, but those of his Founding know them to be weapons from a more powerful time from the Imperium’s past. In time, wargear of unknown make or mark are slowly introduced to the Deathwatch of Jericho Reach as the Viper practices his craft.
A small schism is fermenting in Erioch as the purity of the Viper’s creations are called into question. While the Forge Master cannot forbid its requisition without consent of the Master of the Vigil, Greyweaver’s stance is quite clear on the matter.
- Weapon Skill = 42 (Add 30 With All Out Attack)
- Melee Damage Bonus = 12
- Add PR (5) if Force Weapon
- Base Defence = 26 (10 Toughness 2 Armour Monger)
- Movement = 5 / 10 / 15 / 30 (Double with Jump Pack)
- Psy Rating = 5 (9 With +3 from Push and +1 from Warp Conduit)
- Wounds = 23
- Fate Points = 3
- Corruption Points = 20
- Insanity Points = 20 (Both Willpower tests were a success… but where’s the fun in that?)
- Renown = 40 (For the purposes of being at the same level as the Kill-Team)
- Codex Powers
- Reading = p. 193 Core Rulebook
- Short-Range Telepathy = p. 191 Core Rulebook
- Smite = p. 195 Core Rulebook
- Chapter Powers
- The Dragon’s Claw
- The Dragon’s Shell
- Forbidden Lore (Daemonology)
- Pilot (Personal)
- Speak Language (Techna Lingua)
- Tactics (Linebreaker)
- Tech Use +10
- Trade (Artificer) +20
- Armour Monger
- Battle Rage
- Mental Rage
- Furious Assault
- Hammer Blow
- Rite of Sanctioning
Friedrich has lost some components of his arsenal during his journeys, either from over-use, damage or simple wear-and-tear. Even those wargear wrought by a Master Artificer have their limits. As such, certain items are notes as unavailable, and will only become part of his Standard Wargear once purchased via Signature Wargear
MK IX “Draconis” Pattern Artificer Armour – The Hecaton
Armour Rating = Limbs and Head (14); Body (14) = 12 All Locations + 1 Master Crafted + 1 Armour History
Armour Histories = 4 (Default, + 2 from Artificer Armour + 1 Signature Wargear)
Like all armour of the Vipers, this masterfully crafted Artificer Armour was wrought by Friedrich’s own two hands. It was further improved with help from the Mechanicus stationed in Hethgard who provided an unusual metal as woven mail and the secrets to a more potent jump pack to carry the armour
Combining the best traits of the different marks of Power Armour, its defences combine the overlapping plates of the Mark II, the sloped design of the Mark III to deflect shots, and the further refinements of the Mark VIII against precision attacks. Its systems are no less impressive with its ease of maintenance inherited from the Mark V, compatibility with other patterns of Power Armour from the Mark VI, and the efficiency of the Mark IV’s systems
With the added weight, hardware and systems in the armour, a unique power unit was installed to supply its power demands. Based on the principles which power psy weaponry, a large psy reactor draws from the powers of Friedrich, which in turn release the warp-energies into an engine, working not unlike the thermic combustion engines found in Rhinos and Land Raiders. To control the flow of psychic energy, six Null Rods are embedded in the armour, giving the armour its distinct profile when “running hot” as the rods protrude from the armour
Those steeped in the lore of the of the Adeptus Astartes have noted that the title Hecaton has borne a multitude of meanings, from “legion” or “giant” in traditional parlance, to “a monster enslaved” when used by others, such as the case of with the Minotaur’s Dreadnoughts
I and II. Lathe-Wrought (Rogue Trader – Hostile Acquisitions p.63)
The armour plates have been replaced with a unique metal from the mysterious Lathe Worlds, manifesting as an almost woven material, closer to cloth than chainmail. They give the armour the strength to withstand attacks that might otherwise lay low a power-armoured Space Marine. While immune to graviton weaponry due to the nature of its creation, it is quite vulnerable to magnetic influence, which Friedrich has experienced first hand
- + 1 AP from the superior plating
- Halves the Penetration of attacks (Rounded Up)
- Immune to the Graviton Quality or similar effects
- Magnetic influences or similar effects have their effects doubled
- Halves armour weight (does not stack with Master-Crafted quality)
- Counts as having AP 50 when armour is directly attacked
III. Hexagrammic Warding (from Inquisitor’s Handbook)
Due to the nature of their “common” foes and their base of operations, all Vipers have incorporated the secrets of warp protection onto their armour
- Doubles AP and/ or +20 to Tests against direct psychic attacks (Force Weapon, Psychic Powers etc.) as well as ignoring the Warp Weapon effect.
Artificer Armor Standard Features
- Automatic Fibre Re-Weaving – Seals most punctures.
- Built-In Mind-Impulse Unit – +10 to tests involving items compatible with this wargear
Other Effects and Features:
- High Gorget – If hit in the Head area, roll a 1d10. On a result of 8, 9 or 10, it counts as hitting the Body area instead
- Integrated High-Output Jump Pack – What it says on the tin
- Mark of Authority – +5 Command due to the prestige of the armour
- Master-Crafted – +1 AP, Two extra Armour Histories, and Halved weight of armour (Does not stack with Lathe-Wrought)
Psychic Band (Signature Wargear)
With his main weapon having a history of failing him at inopportune moments, Friedrich has imprinted Hexagrammic Wards onto his headband to channel his psychic powers in an offensive capacity, ensuring his capacity for destruction is not diminished. That it allows him to work metals without the need for tools has also been an asset over the decades. He has only recently started to recreate this piece of wargear, as the materials and work necessary to forge this seemingly unassuming headband is great indeed. They have the words “Furis” engraved upon the Lathe-plate
- Unarmed attacks count as having the Force Quality while wearing this wargear
- Also counts as a Psy-Focus
Psychic Band (Signature Wargear – Master) = NOT YET ACQUIRED
Decades of forging wargear capable of interfacing with his psychic powers has allowed Friedrich to miniaturize the standard Psychic Hood into the armoured headband he wears in battle. Whether it is true or not, Friedrich has believed that it has brought him good fortune ever since the day he has worn it in his duties. They have the words “Furis” engraved upon the Lathe-plate
- Unarmed attacks count as having the Force Quality while wearing this wargear
- Also counts as a Psy-Focus
- Counts as a Psychic Hood
- Also counts as a Charm
- Signature Wargear (Master) adds +5 to Willpower Tests
- Replaces the previous Psychic Band wargear
Power Field Buckle (Signature Wargear – Master) = NOT YET ACQUIRED
Due to his flippant disregard for personal defence, Friedrich has come to rely on a power field generator placed salvaged from his ruined Storm Shield to prevent the worst of the attacks he has to weather to close in on the foe. They have the words “Fidem” engraved upon the Lathe-plated buckle
- Counts as a Power Field 55
- Overload of 1-10
- Signature Wargear (Master) adds +5 to Willpower Tests
Uproar Outfit Chapter Trapping
The latest Outfit gaining traction in the Chapter, it commonly features twisting filigree and embossed gold depicting raging fires as well as the use of multiple adamantium belts as opposed to the more practical magnetic locks in power armor
- Chapter Trapping – +3 Toughness
The Dragon’s Maw Mark II (Signature Wargear – Master)
What was left of Friedrich’s force weapon after seeing much use in the Mortis Thule was reforged into its current incarnation at the Munition Haven in Hethgard. Powered by Volkite charges, a set of pneumatic jaws encases the “tongue” within, providing the power to crush adamantium bulkheads or the power armour of unfortunate targets
A misleading title, this is not the second such instance of his weapon being remade, simply a note of improvements being made over time as near constant combat takes its toll in his weapons.
Damage: 2d10 + 0 (Total Damage of 2d10+22 from +5 for Psy Rating and +17 from Strength bonus)
Penetration: 5 (Total Penetration of 10 from + 5 for Psy Rating 5)
Type: Impact (Non-Psyker)/ Energy (Psyker)
Rate of Fire: N/A
- Force = As per all Force Weapons
- Unwieldy = Cannot Parry or perform Lightning Attack with this weapon
- Special = Based on the Power Fist Weapon Profile, this weapon adds 1 level of Unnatural Strength when calculating damage
- Signature Wargear – Master = +5 To all Willpower Tests when equipped with this Wargear
An ancient weapon said to once be standard issue to the Legions of old, Friedrich considers it more a tool in the furtherance of his craft than the fearsome weapon of war that it is
Class: Pistol= Stats obscured as it is more of a flavor piece than an actual weapon to be used
Rate of Fire: ??
Range: SB x 3 (36)
Rate of Fire: N/A
Special Rules: Blast (4)
Range: SB x 3 (36)
Rate of Fire: N/A
Special Rules: N/A
Curiously, he has modified his armour such that it can be used as a forge; The Jump Pack as a Furnace, the Shield as an Anvil, his sidearm a welder, and his armoured gauntlet containing precision tools more commonly found in a Techpriest’s abode
Bonus – None, though it does make crafting Astartes wargear that much easier
Drawin’s and Reference Images
Much like the Hana page, for your reference and I guess practice too! No Magical Realms here nosireebob!
Friedrich pre-Artificer Armour and Storm Shield
[[File:299463 | class=media-item-align-none | Frederick_Plain_Flats_No_Layer.jpg]]
Xrd Artificer Armour
[[File:339357 | class=media-item-align-none | Frederick_Toon_No_Layer.jpg]]
In pencil I guess
[[File:309997 | class=media-item-align-none | Frederick_Pencil_WIP.jpg]]
Maybe what he looks like (?) Right (or left, its relative) eye looks off? Sue me (Never again with the fancy whatever you call those. I forgot)
Cutting Room Floor
[[File:338780 | class=media-item-align-none | Frederick_Toon_Base_No_Layer.jpg]]
[[File:338779 | class=media-item-align-none | Frederick_Toon_Rough_No_Layer.jpg]]