+ inload: Gatebreakers heraldry +

+ Gatebreakers heraldry +


"Do I look like I give a–?" his last words were mercifully cut off by another cacophonous round of firing that took the front of the building opposite out in an enormous plume of white smoke. Barbari's acolytes both ducked further into cover. The pulverised rock was in the air; laying a shroud over everything. Halm didn't much like that image. As the tense moment stretched, she tried to hear past the ringing in her ears. No movement – but Halm knew better than to trust her eyes and ears in this place. Dust hissed down outside, an occasional large ping marking a larger piece of rubble coming to rest.

Half-crouching, she scuttled over to Brunski, her companion's face screwed up in an almost comically intense stare as he tried to spot enemies – or anything – through the thick cloud. She reached out to tap him on the arm, and he looked at her. God-Emperor, she thought, suppressing an hysterical snigger, we look like albino lapids. Both the acolytes were covered in the white dust of the alien city, their eyes pink and sore. She pinched her nose, noisily snorting out the dirt.

"Look," she started, "let's just get back to the Gatebreakers." Brunski opened his mouth to reply just as another doppler-shifted whooping broke the silence. She saw his eyes crease as he tensed just as the impact came. Closer this time. The entire road surface rippled, the fabric of it turning fluid under the sudden strike.

Even from this distance, the two were thrown to the floor. Halm's wrist struck a piece of furniture on the way down, and she lost her grip on her pistol. Cursing, she peeped over the improvised cover, then froze as she saw silhouettes emerging from the weird white gloom. 

Shit. Stalker-forms.

Long-limbed, pallid, and inhumanly tall and thin, the Sabactes were clothed in a semi-transparent sheen. Their multiple backwards-jointed limbs picked through the rubble carefully, whisper-rifles sweeping back and forth like a hunting-snake's head. One carried some form of fluted, ribbed contraption hinged over its curling back – Halm presumed that had been the source of the whooping barrage. 

The lead Sabact's flat, adze-like muzzle turned, and it stooped to peer under the partially-collapsed awning. Halm dearly wished she hadn't dropped her pistol. For a moment, the thick white stonedust making her still more statue-like. Her eyes flicked left, to the shadows, where Brunski was easing his rifle to his shoulder, slowly.

Ever. 

So. 

Slowly.

The next moments stayed with Halm for a long time. Rows of small, puckered pits in the creature's muzzle flared in a peristaltic ripple, and it emitted a thin screech that ran right through Halm's spine. A fraction of a second later, Brunski's lasbolt caught it in one shoulder, sending it staggering and its own shot wild. Halm leapt forward, grasping desperately for her lost pistol as the other Sabactes whipped round with barking, breathless yelps. Brunski was yelling, his modified rifle shouldered and burping fire. The air still hung with white dust.

Then it moved. From the dust emerged massive figures – shorter than the Sabactes, but many times broader. The warriors toted thick, black, brutal-looking boltguns, but they weren't firing them. More howling doppler-shrieks echoed in the near distance, but the Gatebreakers were intent. Pushing through and into the Stalker-forms, arm-long blades came up, slitting and scattering alien limbs. Great gauntlets closed on gelid flesh, puncturing and holding while more sweeping, disembowelling bladestrokes swept in.

It was over in less than four seconds. Perfect. The Sabact's yellow-and-purple ichor was vivid against the pervasive white dust, painted in great arcs across a startlingly wide area. 

Halm remained sprawled, chest down in the rubble. Dumbfounded, petrified, she only realised she hadn't reached the pistol when one of the marines stepped forward and nudged it towards her with his boot. His head was bare, one bloodshot eye puckered up in a livid bruise that was obvious despite the deep tone of his skin. Their eyes met for a moment, then he looked back to his squadmates. Odd static, on the edge of hearing, pattered back and forth. She closed her mouth, forcing herself to calm. Comm-clicks, that's all.

Brunski stepped forward, his lasrifle pointedly aimed to the ground. He was as wide-eyed as Halm, He hooked his free hand under her armpit and helped her up. The marine turned back, and gestured with three fingers.

"Extraction awaits rearwards, Adepts. Three hundred yards." 

Another marine loomed behind him. Slightly shorter, slighter – but still head and shoulders above Brunski, a powerfully-built man – Halm wondered whether the other was Astartes or Primaris? Was there even a meaningful difference now? 

Whatever he was, the Primaris' helm was grilled and pugnacious. His armour was battered, but all the damage was old. Where the Primaris was covered in scrapes and dings and Sabact-ichor, the only thing that made it clear the other marines had been fighting was the same shroud of dust as his comrade.

"To put it another way, adept," his strange accent garbled the word – or else the honorific was intentionally being mocked – "Your presence here is no longer welcome."

+++ 

+ Barbari Kill's Notes – Markings of the Gatebreakers +

+ The Chapter symbol is a mace, with five points. It's a figurative representation of the Chapter's intentions – a brutal, direct weapon of war. The points symbolise the Chapter's multiple companies and ability to work more independently. Further, the handle contains an orb above the weapon's grip. This symbolises Terra, and the God-Emperor – it is he that directs the Chapter. The ball of the mace, figuratively distant from Terra, represents Andocrine. +

+ The Gatebreake's Chapter symbol, on Eo Daur's pauldron. +


+ It's a blunt image, and one that it quite at odds with both the Chapter that I have found here on Andocrine and their would-be Primaris successors. Despite the ready access to the warrior-monks and the extensive material I have gathered on the ephemera of the Chapter, our research has revealed little of value on the Chapter's capabilties or intentions. +

+ Member-Ordinary Blessings-be Miriode shows a typical left pauldron. +

+ It's not even as though things are consistently different. On consultation with my Primaris warders, some things are straight from the book – the Codex Astartes, that is. Tactical markings are scribed on the rear shoulder pad as one might find on a hundred Chapters across the Imperium – but they're accompanied by odd weapon badges. Halm assures me that such markings aren't without precedent; but her digging is going further and further into the past without revealing anything relevant. If it is a known Astartes marking, it hasn't been used in Millennia. +

+ Member-Ordinary Tening Gyal bears a IX strikeforce plate on his forearm +

+ Other markings hint at a organisation unlike that of their Primaris support. Scipius' men are organised in strict squads and companies; you can tick them off like toy soldiers, each one in the right place. +

+ Sho's forces, meanwhile, seem quite bemused by this – their fluid approach appears to revolve around temporary Strikeforces, with very little integral formal organisation beyond that. These strikeforces are gathered by officers – though on whose authority or by what agency I do not yet know. + 

+ I have many questions for Sho – and for Scipius, too. And yet, I understand that this is a fraught and strained moment of meeting for the two Chapters. I have no desire to prevent an alliance – an alloying – from forming, and delicacy must therefore, for now, be my watchword. +

+ [ADDENDA][APPENDNOTE:] No word yet from Taiwo. Has the man received my missive? +

+++


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