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Made in us
Boosting Space Marine Biker






It was a feeling Alexandros enjoyed and wished he had thought of it when drafting the plans for the Elpis. The Thunderchild had one last surprise for him as they finally arrived outside the strategium. Surrounding the double doors was a wooden arch. Painted in vermillion, two posts stood straight before being joined by two horizontal beams connected by a center support strut. The only curve to be found was a crowning black lintel that curved upward at the edges.

Standing before the vertical beams were two Lightning Bearers. One was unhelmed and blind, while the other bore a curved sword and a bulky pack on his back. Both parties came to a halt before Valorian bowed to them.

The two guards bowed in turn before turning to the door, each opening one side.
   
Made in us
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As they were led into the strategium, Alexandros and his sons were struck by how different it was. Instead of a circular hololith in the room's center, it was rectangular and long, built into the floor instead of rising above it. No seats surrounded it as the cadre of the First Legion's Praetorate sat on the floor itself, legs tucked beneath them. No Lightning Bearer occupied the short ends of the hololith table. A few metres away from the head of the table occupied the lone throne of the entire room. A silk tent draped the throne in darkness, but there was no hiding the giant who sat in its throne. Two more blind warriors stood watch over the throne.

Manst silently took his place at the table, his companions assuming their position along the wall with the others. Alexandros brought his party to a halt at a respectable distance. Alexandros was on the verge of bowing when Icarion's voice rang through the room. "A great day this is to welcome my brother to my dojo!"

"Welcome, Lord VonSalim!" The Lightning Bearers proclaimed as they bowed. Alexandros couldn't but notice the Terrans moved with equal precision and grace to their Madrigalan brothers. After twenty years of Madrigalan influence, it appeared to have been adopted wholesale by both halves of the legion. Alexandros looked forward to the day when he could say he had achieve the same unity.
   
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Not a moment after, Icarion emerged from his throne as he stepped toward the table. As before on Delos, Alexandros' eyes were drawn to the great, horned mask on Icarion's right pauldron and to the aqua jewel embedded into his forehead. "Though it is tradition to offer fealty here in my domain, I hereby recognize you, Lord VonSalim, as my equal. For a brother to expect submission from another would be a poor joke, don't you think? I may be a lord to your warriors as you are to mine, but I would rather we remain brothers to one another."

Offering a small smile, Alexandros answered, "I thank you for your kindness, brother." He gestured behind him before introducing each of his officers to the Lord of the First Legion. After each introduction, the officer bowed as deeply as Manst had bowed to Alexandros, with some mental prompting by Darshan. Weyland was the most awkward one as he had to bow with his servo-arm clinging to his back. 
   
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Once Alexandros had finished, Icarion swept an arm over his own officers. "These are my Sentinels: Sahaal, Manst, Tasetar, Horace, Kionen..." While Icarion continued, Alexandros reviewed what he had read about the Lightning Bearers. 

Without a doubt, the most famous of them was the First Sentinel, Korvost Sahaal. The first hero of the Legiones Astartes was also the first Legion Master of them all. It was said that the Emperor had personally chosen Sahaal to lead the first of His legions. Sahaal had proven their worth with the infamous Silencing of the Eternal Dirge, freeing an entire continent from a demented religion of blood and song. Alexandros was eager to speak with him and learn more about Otovan Biz'sark, the first Legion Master of the Storm Riders. 

He also wondered what kind of relationship Sahaal had with Icarion. Although Sahaal's reign over the First Legion had been a scant five years before Icarion's discovery, it had been a storied one filled with honour and glory. Had Sahaal stepped aside willingly, eagerly to his Primarch? Did he wish he had remain in command longer? So many questions, and Darshan dare not call upon his powers for a shortcut to his answers. Such an effort would be obvious to many of the psykers in this room.
   
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Peering over the rest of the Sentinels, Alexandros saw a fascinating picture of transition. Third Sentinel Tasetar was one of the original chapter masters fighting at the side of Sahaal, but Manst had replaced Ise, the third famed commander of the Silencing. Horace was not of Terra, but of the Sphere, while Kionen's blood was pure Madrigalan. The remaining, and younger, officers were dominated by Madrigalans. In the centuries to come, it was more than possible that the last of the Terrans would eventually fade.

It was a fate Alexandros did not desire for his own legion.

As the last of the introductions finished, Icarion gestured to the hololith table. "Now, to war."
   
Made in us
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Signaled, the Sentinels shifted as they left their spots around the table. Behind Alexandros, the doors opened to admit the other necessary representatives in the coming campaign. Stepping to the side, the Fifth Legion contingent waited as various greetings and rituals were observed. It was only due to Alexandros' status as the only other known Primarch of the Imperium was he allowed such a private introduction of his new legion. In reality, it would be both unwise and rude to conduct a briefing without the other important members of the Expeditionary Fleets. 

Three Rakurai Lord Marshals was not enough to represent the Imperial Army as several Lord Commanders entered, entourages in tow. Commanding the Lightning Bearers' allied Titan force was Princeps Senioris Demarcus. Although a sliver of a man, Darshan could sense the man's powerful aura that alluded to Legio Telesto's nature as psy-titans. Yet, for all of the power Telesto contained, it was a controversial force. The technology used to construct them was among the greatest of Martian secrets, and to gain them cost much while accruing Martian ire. What had happened to make Telesto possible was a well-kept secret, even to Alexandros' own probes. 

In comparison, Princeps Majoris Eston dal Pirana wielded authority over a demi-Legio of Ignatum in support of the Halcyon Wardens. Legio Ignatum was the opposite of Telesto. Ignatum was one of the oldest Titan Legios and commanded a great deal of respect. However, their assignment with the Fifth Legion was temporary. It was yet another task for Alexandros to be mindful, establishing a true alliance with a Titan Legio as opposed to the ad hoc basis currently in place. 

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/05/27 18:26:40


 
   
Made in us
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Ayatollah Kharkis was the last to enter. While the other officers had taken care to pay proper respect to the Emperor's Firstborn, Kharkis teetered on the edge of disrespect as he threw a half-bow to the Primarch before taking his place at the table. A moment passed as all eyes shifted to Icarion. Yet, he nodded, accepting the poor showing before the hololith table revealed the galaxy...

...with an unspoken order, the fierce abomination faded as the hologram deactivated. "Again, I expect all forces to be briefed and prepared for combat in thirty-six hours," Icarion announced. Darshan's senses twitched for the fifth time. Alexandros could not describe how confused he was. Perhaps the the sheer number of connections to the Warp concentrated in the room was playing with his supernatural senses. Yet, he almost felt there was something subtle at play. As he scanned the faces, he could not grasp at whatever it was that vexed him. Yet, all he noted physically were the variety of expressions commonly found at a briefing, ranging from determination to hidden boredom to satisfaction. Alexandros' eyes lingered on Kharkis for a second longer. 

"At once, my lord," Demarcus stated as his thin frame bowed low before taking his leave from the gathering. 
   
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As the attendees began to leave, Alexandros dropped the mystery. For now, at least. He turned to Ruel. "Lord Commander, return to the Elpis with the Praetorate and prepare the legion. I require a personal meeting with Lord Anasem."

"As you will, my lord," Ruel answered without a hint of surprise.

While the Halcyon Wardens filed out of the strategium, Alexandros turned and found Icarion approaching him. Before Alexandros could say a word, Icarion gestured to the exit. "If you would follow me, brother."
   
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After a short walk, Alexandros' building curiosity was sated when the doors to Icarion's quarters opened. The first thing he noticed was the wooden floor. Not a hint of the adamantium beneath it was allowed as polished brown reflected light, except for a square area around the entrance. Unlike Alexandros' three rooms, Icarion's quarters consisted of a single room partitioned into several smaller areas by paper walls. Yet, tradition did not hold sway over the entire room. To Alexandros' right was a living hologram cycling through landmarks from Madrigal. Beneath the hologram was a stasis generator holding an antique watercolor painting depicting a restless sea. To the left, hanging on the wall, was a strange spear with a ballistics weapon attached, reminding Alexandros of the Custodians' own weapons yet far less advanced. Sitting below the spear was a ruined helmet, split into upper and lower halves. It too was a pale shadow of an Astartes own helm, but what remained was highly decorated with a crest and symbols he did not recognize.

"Brother, if you would, I ask that you remove your boots before stepping onto the wood."
   
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As Alexandros obliged, undoing the seals to his armour, he gestured to the warrior's display. "A former enemy?" 

"Your instincts serve you well," Icarion said, his eyes lingering on the split helmet. "They belonged to a man known as Hirato Tokawa. I once counted him among my friends, a clan head who had shown great promise and fought by my side to maintain peace on Madrigal." The Lord of the First paused as a shadow covered his face. "He, among all men, has come the closest to killing me."
   
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"Ah, this is the arms and armour of the infamous Tokawa. I am surprised," Alexandros admitted. "From what I read, Tokawa had become a monster in both spirit and body when you slew him."

"He had," Icarion said with a nod as he stepped onto the wooden floor, only the thin material of his bodysuit between his feet and the floor. "When we met again in battle, he was scarcely how I remembered him. He was more machine than man, standing at my height on metal legs, his heart replaced with something more insidious. Yet, proud he was, and he only used subtle modifications for his head so that he could continue wearing that helm he could never part with." Icarion turned his attention away from the display. "You, however, have no such tale to speak of. Were the records accurate in that you never made war on your planet's people?"
   
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"It is true, but it was a close thing at times," Alexandros said. "Several assassination attempts were made upon me. Only once did I command an army for battle. At the time, the planet was divided between two overarching coalitions on the eastern and western continents, divided between the Sindhuans and the Hellasans. I landed on one of the eastern isles and began my unification effort there. It took a few years, but I had rallied a third of the eastern coalition to my banner, but hadn't been able to make any inroads among the Sindhuans. They were extremely suspicious of me, you understand. At the current rate, the effort to persuade them would have taken decades. However, fortune provided me an opportunity. I assume you've read the mission report of my first battle after Father found me?"

Icarion nodded before gesturing for them to move deeper into the quarters. "I did."

Alexandros continued as they walked. "Roughly five months before the event, I saw a vision of those tainted xenos raiding Delos. If I proceeded with care, I had an opportunity to strike a blow against the devils who plagued my world and to break the resistance against my dreams of unification. Only my family and my closest confidants knew the truth when I abruptly changed tactics. Where once I called for peace, I called for war. The traditional elements of the Hellas Confederacy could not decide if I had finally 'seen reason' or if it was yet another ploy, but could not resist a chance to destroy their historic enemies."
   
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Alexandros nodded before mirroring Icarion a second later, both of them sitting cross-legged across the table. "There was an island between the two continents; it was once a volcano until it nearly destroyed itself in a terrific explosion. I was able to have both armies land there. At the appointed hour, the xenos attacked right as we were about to kill each other. Our massed forced was a lure since they believed the Delians would only put a meagre resistance, leaving them to raid the rest of the planet at their leisure. After all, they had launched successful raids against Delos repeatedly over the centuries. Why would this be any different?"

He grinned. "Oh, I suppose one thing had changed since the last raid. A certain giant who was eager to enlighten these alien drek about his existence."

"And so you took two warring clans and created an alliance of necessity and blood," Icarion said. 

Alexandros nodded, his grin subsiding as a frown took its place. "Much blood was spilt. It was only with overwhelming numbers and my powers that we were able to surprise and then drive back the xenos. Casualties were high among both armies."

"Which only highlighted your calls for unification I'm sure. Furthermore, if any leaders of the traditional elements died in combat, it would only make your cause easier to accept for their successors."

"The moment they struck from the skies, I sent a general call, offering my protection to any who wished it." Alexandros shrugged. "It is no fault of mine that certain commanders could not see past their pointless grudges."
   
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Icarion nodded. "How long did it take to unify the planet after the battle was won?"

"If you mean by treaty, an alliance was created within the week. In theory, all of Delos now stood shoulder-to-shoulder against the threat of the alien. Yet, I consider that merely the first step of unification. I wanted the people to be united in, not just martially, but in government and in heart. The former would take several more years. The latter is still on-going though the Imperium is keeping such developments on track without my presence."

Alexandros chuckled. "All this to answer your question, yes, I have never made war on my people."

"Yet, not quite as bloodless as the Iterators now proclaim," Icarion said. 

"No. Only rarely is history as clean as the citizen understands it."

"Agreed," Icarion said. "Which brings me to the present. New as the Imperium is, word has swiftly reached me about your victories and newfound glories. Your deeds in regards to Balov in particular stand out. Yet, behind these honours, how are you handling your duties to the Great Crusade?"
   
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For a moment, Alexandros considered weighing his words before shrugging. "With great difficulty."

Icarion raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"Commanding a legion is not the same as commanding an army," Alexandros confessed as he stood and paced the room. "Every year since I assumed my position, it has been a struggle to find the delicate balance between what the Imperium requires and to mold my sons to my ideals. When the Imperium measures them, all they can see is combat ability. A battering ram to smash aside humanity's worst foes. Any changes that might threaten their battle performance is viewed with suspicion." Alexandros stopped before sweeping a hand down. "I cannot accept such a truncated existence for my sons. Yet, so many have internalised such views that I struggle to root it out from within as much as I attempt to ward it from without."
   
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"What do you want?" 

"I want them to thrive in peace as much as war. This war will not last forever. One day, the Pax Imperialis will be instituted from one end of the galaxy to the other. Of course there will be rebellions, resurgences of hostile activity, but nothing will require the full strength of the Imperium ever again. On that day, I do not want my sons to fear what will become of them, but already well-suited to transition." Less animated, Alexandros sat down. "Which is why I request your aid, brother."

Icarion nodded. "It'd be my honor."
   
Made in us
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Alexandros smiled. "Thank you, brother. The balance I am seeking I believe lies in your own Madrigal College. I want to institute a series of societies within my own legion to better spread my ideals. I want you to tell me every aspect of the Madrigal College and any recommendations for harnessing it in different forms and for other purposes, other than psyker mastery."

"As you wish. Let me begin with the Blue Volta..."
   
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Chapter 12: Masters of the Third Dimension

Ayatollah Kharkis considered the enemy fleet before the Imperium. The Scara ships were ugly things to look at. A mixture of rock and shell, the vessels looked less like ships and more akin to floating mountains. They reminded Kharkis of space hulks yet smaller. Easily countable as well since the Scaras did not believe in support vessels. Seventy-three of their warships opposed the Imperium at the outer edge of the system. Looking at his foes, Kharkis wished the conflict could have been resolved with a series of cyclonic torpedoes and be done with it.
   
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Orders, unfortunately, insisted otherwise. The Scara worlds had been scanned by foolhardy Rogue Traders. Those scans had revealed the planets to be replete with deposits of adamantium, gold, copper, and a dozen other elements vital to the Great Crusade. Thus, the worlds were to be taken intact, and their xenos occupiers exterminated. The Magos Biologis were hard at work attempting to find a biological weapon that would destroy the hostile species without poisoning the worlds, but the Imperium had few samples for them to experiment with. Until that situation had changed, the Legiones Astartes would use the old-fashion way. 
   
 
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