Big Game V – Chapter Fifty Six: The Reckoning

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Atrus lunged towards the Word Bearer, his force claw glowing with ambient runes. Esarhaddon’s sidestep threw the Librarian-Dreadnought off-balance, nearly toppling his lumbering metal form. The dark blade lashed out, severing the servos of his Power Fist, and shearing a deep gouge into the metal of his arm.

Atrus pivoted on one foot, throwing up his wounded fist in an attempt to knock the Chaos Lord off his feet, but the daemonsword flashed twice, and the useless fragments of the Dreadnought’s combat arm clattered to the stony surface of the altar.

Desperate now, Atrus blasted another beam of energy at the Chaos Lord. The shot broke apart and was again absorbed into the blade, but it had only been a feint. Atrus charged in after the blast, hoping to simply crush the Sicarii Lord under his bulk, but as he waded through the black smoke left in his psychic blast’s wake, he felt his leg give way as the blade sheared through the armor of his leg, tearing through tendon-servos and ligament wiring. The Dreadnought stepped into nothingness, and collapsed to the ground, whirling his torso one-hundred and eighty degrees to protect the ancient sarcophagus that held his inert mortal form. The impact shattered the armor of his power plant, spraying fuel and coolant around him. Data streamed through Atrus’ mind, showing critical power loss throughout his Dreadnought body. He was dying.

Through the chilled clouds, the Lord Esarhaddon stepped, the dark blade held low at his side.

“So this is the protection of your Emperor, weak one?” The Sicarii Lord’s words dripped with unvarnished malice. “See how he has guided you to this place, only to fall and become the fuel for mankind’s remaking? Your god is dead, feeble servant, dead upon that throne, and now you have brought his immortal spirit here to die as well. But it shall be reborn in glory. You, too, are simply a vessel, sent to deliver his soul to me. Even now, your Emperor gives unto me his power through your weak flesh.

“He will be born again, and wear the flesh of this plane once more. A new and terrible god will bellow forth from the Immaterium, and bring Man under the bootheel of a true master. One who knows Man’s true soul. One who will deliver unto this pitiful race the object of worship that they so crave…that they so need.

“Finish this, Traitor,” Atrus’ voice scratched out through ruined vox-casters. “Your nattering tires me.”

“Nothing finishes here, Prophet,” Esarhaddon grinned. “It is only a beginning.”

The Daemon Blade plunged down into the Dreadnought’s sarcophagus, splitting the inches of adamantium like cloth, penetrating the mummified remains within. The vox-amplified voice cried out for a moment, but was silenced, and Atrus lay still. Satisfied, Esarhaddon watched and waited for the soul within to merge with the daemonic spirit of Ba’arzunipal.

The daemon blade shook violently, and Esarhaddon felt the familiar pull of the Daemon Sword as it began its dark work. The altar trembled with the energy of thousands of souls as the daemon began to feed on its final victim. Here, thought the High Lord, the Imperium falls on the broken corpse of its own savior.

No, Atrus’ voice answered within Esarhaddon’s mind. Here you fall, upon the embers of your own damnation. Wide eyed, the Chaos Lord’s countenance fell.

The sword screamed aloud.

Suddenly, a light from within the sword flashed, and Atrus’ body lifted from the ground. The glow of the sword began to fade as the crystal amplifier affixed to the Dreadnought’s arm shone ever brighter. The daemon’s roar reached a crescendo as it was freed from one prison and brought into another, its mind and power dashed into an incoherent miasma of thought and feeling.

Esarhaddon bellowed in rage, but was cut off as the enormous Daemon Blade exploded into hundreds of burning shards, sending white-hot fragments into the air at supersonic speeds. The Chaos Lord sputtered as a thick mass of daemonic metal sheared through his millennia-old Tactical Dreadnought armor, lodging itself in his midsection.

As the machines set within the core of Iperin crumbled and failed under the strain of their millennia-old vaults being emptied so quickly, the whole surface of Iperin shook. The luminescent colors of the warp storm enveloping the Chasma Spica flickered and faded, leaving clear skies and the cold stars above. His plans shattered and his body bleeding out across the jet-black altar, the High Lord Esarhaddon stumbled and fell, and was silent.

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