Big Game V – Chapter Forty Three: The Trap Closes
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Lord Matthius watched the spectacle below with a detached interest. It pleased him to live in the Dark Gods’ greatest triumph, but the obsession with the past that gripped these Traitor Legions baffled him. Did they not live to pursue further glories for their masters? A thousand lifetimes had passed since these watery origins. He wondered, momentarily, if these Astartes had not outlived their purpose.
The voices of the Gods rumbled low in his mind, and as the ritual came to its gory finish, he noticed a large hollow space in the far wall of the amphitheatre, above the entrance. A figure stirred within, and as it moved further into the light, a flat expanse of granite began to slide forth from above the pit. As the protrusion began to eclipse the theatre below, a great figure in blood red Terminator armor stepped forth onto its surface, and began to stride towards the gathered audience of Chaos Lords. Esarhaddon. Somewhere in the part of his mind that still remained tethered to his former life, Lord Matthius felt annoyance at the Word Bearer’s penchant for the dramatic.
Esarhaddon came to a stop just before the ringed seats, and in one fluid motion, drew Ba’arzunipal from its elaborate scabbard.
“Amongst you,” he loudly pronounced, “there are many who have followed this blade for thousands of years.” Matthius eyed the audience for a moment, and saw the evidence of Esarhaddon’s words. Several great Warlords shifted in their seat uncomfortably, and others gazed with a hatred that was normally reserved for the Emperor’s curs.
“You have heard tales of its power,” Esarhaddon continues, “spoken in whisper and in mortal screams. You thirst for its power. You have seen it pass from master to master, always awaiting an opportunity to claim it as your own, to lead the armies of the Dark Gods in glorious retribution against those who have damned us to hiding in the darkest corners of the galaxy. You have thirsted for revenge, for bloodshed, and for victory in the Long War. You have longed to be the icy black hand that chokes the life from the Corpse of Terra, and ushers in an age of Chaos Eternal. You have wished to sit upon that throne in a reign of glory to that fell Pantheon which grants us a life eternal in which to wreak our vengeance. Do not deny this, for if you had no wish for the sword’s power, it would not have brought you to this place, so long forgotten by the mortal inhabitants of this pitiful galaxy.”
The Word Bearer brandished the sword, sweeping it close before his scarred and leathery face. “Forget now, those terrible dreams of power, for now the sword is brought onto me, and with that power in hand, I have forged it with the Heart of Zaral. Once more, every enemy of the Imperium is drawn forth. Even now, the Green Beast and the Hive draw close, and have caught our foe unawares. They drive them inwards, towards the planet we now orbit. For them, there shall be no escape, and no reinforcements. I have seen to this, brethren. Now, my dark disciples, the Serpent of Chaos shall coil around the neck of those who would serve the Throne.”
There was a murmur of confusion from the audience. Matthius was taken by surprise as a unified roar of anger rose from the voices in his mind. What had Esarhaddon done?
It was then that Matthius noticed the heads of the assembled Chaos Lords cocked in concentration. Private communications were playing out within their comm-links, and each of the great warlords began to look, almost in unison, at Esarhaddon, who stood immobile. Then, subtly, the sounds of a hundred confused voices began to filter in from around the room. Each communication was played openly, each merging into a chorus of confused reports overlaid atop each other.
My Lo – This is the Pla – Something ha – Reports of – By the Gods! It’s –
Finally, once voice rose above the others.
Great Gods! The storm, my Lord! It rises again! I repeat, the Storm has risen once more! We are trapped, my Lor – The comm.-static ceased.
“Now,” Esarhaddon intoned. “the trap is set. Darkness has fallen over the vision of Man, and when it raises once more, the mortals will be no more. From this great wound in the body of the Imperium, we shall make a path to Terra, and cast the Emperor into an eternal death. The age of Chaos is begun, my brethren, and each of you, as a chosen Lieutenant, shall rule in the name of our Pantheon. Return to you fleets, brothers. There is war to wage.”
With that, Esarhaddon abruptly turned and strode back to the doorway from which he entered, the floor receding with him. As the audience of Chaos Lords quickly rose and shouted commands to their varied fleets, Lord Matthius sat and began to listen to the voices of the Gods, suddenly unaware of his next move.