The air felt heavy on his lungs as the helmet was torn from his head the ash and dust filling his chest as his body was forced to quickly adapt to the ever changing environment of Istavaan V’s harsh atmosphere. He lay in the black sand for a moment his senses finally returned to him as the nail in his head buzzed with excitement and glee as the carnage developing around them.
“What had happened before this moment?”
Wrathe attempted to recall any events prior to the here and now, before the battle had begun and his sanity was stripped from his mind into a world of pitch black while his body moved of its own accord. It was a futile effort that much he knew for certain for when the butcher’s nails took a legionary there was no going back, all semblance of morality and clear thinking was taken from them in those moments they were truly allowed to feel alive.
He hated that; he hated what the nails had done to his legion yet could not blame any including himself for accepting the surgery to have the implants. It was the only way they ever felt closer to their gene father, the Primarch Angron he was known as though he never really took to that name.
Unfortunately he only had a few seconds for such fleeting ideals and thoughts before he was thrown into the air by a solid shunt from a Salamanders Terminator’s storm shield landing in a heap on the floor as he attempted to rite himself. A howl or a roar the legionary couldn’t be sure which escaped his lungs as he looked to the sky in some sort of statement of defiance at his fate to die.
“I refuse to fall not here and not to you Salamander”
Picking up his chainaxe from the ground he pulled the trigger hard as the teeth grinded into life with a sudden growl becoming a mighty roar only a few seconds later. Seconds, that was all the time two warriors on such a battlefield had for such one to one engagements but this one had lasted longer than expected with a few World Eaters and Salamanders stopping to observe and protect their captains as the battle around them raged on.
“It’s Turiel Coza to you Wrathe of the World Eaters legion”
Wrathe couldn’t help but smile at the comment, even amongst his dying brothers the two legionaries were like a painting made reality. They fought on no great hill nor did light shine down on them like the world of old earth had shown, no this was war as the fought in the pit formed by an artillery shell the battered and torn remains of former brothers scattered around them.
From behind him Wrathe heard the screams and echoes of the dead and the dying, calling this a mess would be an understatement, and this was always how it turned out when his legion got involved. From behind him he heard the blast of a bolter turning to catch a glimpse one of his enraged brothers jumping into the pit and interrupting the challenge, Wrathe could not allow such a dishonourable act to pass.
Gunning his chainaxe he caught the warrior in a wide swing cleaving it into the berserkers side the ceramite plate grinding and cracking against the force of the swing as Wrathe took a step forward, planting his feet into the floor. It was over in a moment, with a flash of blue and white Wrathe blew a hole through the warrior’s chest plate with his plasma pistol sending him sprawling to the ground in a heap at his feet.
“I’m sorry brother you did not deserve this fate yet it is the one you were handed the moment you set foot into this arena”
Throughout all of this Turiel was the image of patience in comparison to Wrathe’s brutality, something he knew would always separate him from his gene cousins. Where the world eaters were the pinnacle of brutality and bloodshed the Salamanders were renowned for their selfless actions and kindness towards the local population of most planets.
Wrathe didn’t care he took no time to rest after felling his own kin charging at the foe before him wildly swinging his axe against his opponents shield as the teeth cried out in long metallic groans, beginning to snap off and peel away against the much higher quality of the master crafted shield.
With nowhere to go and his mad swinging making little difference he grabbed the side of the shield and pulled the tick, tick, tick of the nails entering his mind once more as the craving for blood began to surface. Another sacrifice made when allowing the nails to influence the mind, next to nothing could give him pleasure or joy anymore save the slaying of the foes before him.
Turiel took the opportunity and let go of his shield, unhooking it from his fist and swinging his power spear round as Wrathe lost his footing from the sudden lack of resistance stumbling back. He should have died in that moment, the spear coming level with his neck until his feet hit his slain brother causing him to fall as the tip of the spear dragged its way across his face plate taking a clean line of the armour and part of the eye lenses away with it.
With no time to pause he rolled out the way to avoid the downward strike and rolling his arm back to pin the spear in the ground by its hand guard. Lashing out with his foot he connected with the Salamanders kneecap forcing him to release his grip on the spear. It was over now; with no means to defend himself Turiel was helpless and at Wrathe’s mercy as the World Eater jumped to his feet. Grabbing the spear in one hand and chainaxe in the other he begins to swing wildly at the helpless victim before him.
It didn’t take long, with the final swing Turiel found himself decapitated by his own spear. His head tumbling to the floor as Wrathe knelt down to pick it up, looking into its eye lenses he saw a reflection of what could have been. A life for his legion without the influence of the Butcher’s Nails and the way they corrupted and fed off the misery the legion had caused many a world.
Climbing out of the pit he looked across the scorched fields of the warzone, from the burning fortifications behind him to the warring legions before him. The stench of death and crisp flesh was fresh in the air and would be for many hours that day as Wrathe attached Turiel’s helmet to his waste and began to move forward towards the hated foe once more.
The Horus heresy had begun and it would be many battles after this one before a victor was decided, would he live to see that day most likely not but he didn’t care, With a glint in his eye and a fire in his breast Wrathe would tear his way through this war step by step waiting for the day a strong enough foe would finally claim his head.