+ inload: Endworlds +

His head ached. This was, perhaps, to be expected; as Member-Ordinary Gond had been roundly clouted by a Taran's cudgel while suppressing the turquoise-skinned biped's foxhole. He grinned. 'Suppressing', he thought, as orange blood trickled and dripped from his armour. I'm picking up the Coreworlder's coy speech-patterns now. Musing on this, he jogged after the rest of the squad.

The arrival of the Primaris marines had heralded changes for the Gatebreakers. New armour, new equipment. New training to take it on. Adaptation and compromise – not every marine would relinquish his hard-won and ancient wargear; though many welcomed the opportunity to replace their patchwork or jury-rigged systems with the clean lines of the new Mark X plate.

More than that, though; there was a fundamental change in the Chapter. All the long-hidden maladies of their failing biology: the lost organs, the fading rituals; all that had seemingly been resolved. Indeed, Gond was perversely glad of the pain in his head – it reminded him of all the bodily ailments from which he no longer suffered. The Belisarian furnace within him roared; and its voice meant that the Gentles would no longer need to wear the black and surreptitiously steal material from their Deathwatch cousins, merely to stave off a terminal decline. It was more than physical improvement: it cleansed the Chapter's collective conscience. Pride could be felt once more; the yellow and gold of Andocrine could stand in the light.

Even the marines who steadfastly refused to 'cross the Rubicon' – another euphemism – felt the optimism. After an age in which the Chapter had suffered incremental losses, from which they could not recover, the arrival of Scipius and his men – a thousand tall, clean-limbed Primaris marines – had given the old Chapter back its teeth; and swollen the strength of the various Strikeforces. Contact had been made with Eremites on previously abandoned frontiers.

It was good to be back in the field. It was good to reclaim lands lost generations before. It made Gond, and all his brethren, glad. The simple joy of feeling one's body moving and working in the way it should was revitalising. 

And yet... something nagged at Gond, as it nagged at all the old Gatebreakers, and none of the new. The sorry state of their domain was not owing to a failing Imperial grip; it was considerably more than that. As all Gatebreakers once had known – though none would speak it for shame – the Endworlds had never been Imperial, not truly.

Would their new strength be sufficient to break the shackles of Uridimmu?


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