+ inload: Officia Monstrosa +

+ inload: Officia Monstrosa +

+ Dust lay across the fallen figure, drawing white streaks across the grubby armour. It lay in dry eyes. He had been dead and staring before the explosion had draped him in his stony shroud. +

+ Not long before, mused Yavuz. He squatted on his haunches next to the corpse, his own face pinched. Resting his hands on his knees, he paused a moment to enjoy the stretch in his hamstrings and lower back. His armour fizzed. The pitiless light threw stark shadows; highlighted the cracked plate and skin scaly with rad-wash. +

+ Above the distant sound of small arms fire and shrieking shells, Yavuz heard footsteps. Considered, but not wary. Konstantin stopped besides the squatting warrior, cradling his boltgun. He pursed his lips. 
'Nikephoros?' +

+ Yavuz nodded once in reply. 'You were not close.' Konstantin continued, his tone disinterested. Yavuz might have smiled. +

+ 'No.' It was an odd statement for his squadmate to make, particularly given the circumstances. He reached forward unhesitatingly, drawing his combat blade and moving to one knee in the same movement. +

+ The silver edge cut easily through the scalp, lodged, was freed with a slight grunt. Yavuz cradled Nikephoros' head, his face pinched as he wrenched upwards. A crackle of particularly unusual gunfire – Mass-accelerator? Volkite? – accompanied the motion. Yavuz placed the top of Nikephoros' skull gently to one side, then tilted the head to let the hard light in. He raised an eyebrow, almost in surprise. Despite the rad-count, it was pink, unspoiled. Konstantin knelt beside him, placed his boltgun down as more members of the squad filtered in. Yavuz slipped two fingers into the brainpan, lifted out a glistening grey-pink chunk and placed it in his mouth. +

+ His thoughts might have shamed him once. Weakness. This was the first meat he had tasted since planetfall. By the Warmaster, it was good. Konstantin could not hide his hunger, either. Yavuz detected a rise in his heartbeat, saw him lick his lips. +

+ Yavuz placed Nikephoros' head back on the floor, then sat back, meditatively. The warriors ranged around the area remained watchful, as Konstantin flipped open the dead Astartes' pouches for ammunition, his expression impossible to read. The distant gunfire swelled with the wind, then fell away. An eerie whine sounded. An irrelevant siren. Who was it for? Who could not have understood the danger by now? +

+ Yavuz's skin blanched, then flushed. He sat, cross-legged, still. While they waited, Konstantin used his combat blade to scrape away the few honour marks on the dead man's armour; used the blade in a rocking motion to make a crude 'X' across the squad and company markings; specialist litany, his oath-parchment – everything except the Legion's dead-skull identifier. His expression was unreadable, his muttering almost inaudible. +

+ Finally, he jabbed the point of the knife into the corner of the eye socket of the Legion symbol. Pulling back on the blade, he levered out the black onyx. He placed it to one side, then repeated the process on the other eye socket. His movements were careful, steady. A shell, much closer, made him wince, but he continued after a moment. He placed the two near-circles in his hand, a pool of glossy black, then used the handle of his blade to break them, cracking them into shards. With a rolling motion, not unlike a pestle in the mortar of his hand, he ground them to grit. Finally, he held them over Nikephoros' face, and let the grains spill through his gauntlet, covering the eyes. +

+ He paused briefly, looking at the fallen warrior. After a short time, he gave a dismissive grunt, reached out for his boltgun, and stood. An intake of breath made him look back at his sergeant, still sitting cross-legged. +

+ Yavuz opened his eyes.

'I... know the area.' he said, hesitantly. 'The Fists are... that way.' +


+ Palatarch Yavuz +

+ Phalangite Konstantin +

+ Phalangite Radoslav +

+ Phalangite Koinos +

+ Hyoidite Aganthan +

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