Warhammer 40K: Brazen Hearts

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Kuja
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Warhammer 40K: Brazen Hearts

Post by Kuja » 2014-01-16 07:07pm

This is entirely off the cuff, scratch-made Black Templars fanfic prompted by a post over on 4chan. Pump the Rocky IV soundtrack and enjoy.

Warhammer 40,000
Brazen Hearts


"Your kind have ruled this galaxy for ten thousand of your years," the alien's metallic voice had echoed from the cliffs, relentless in its scorn. "And yet...you have so little to account for your efforts. Such failure must be as depressing to bear as it is shameful to behold!"

Helbrecht grimaced. The necron overlord's words still hung fresh in his head as the day they had been spoken. The humiliation of his defeat continued to sting, hot as molten lead poured into his veins, even five years later. Defeated, disabled, humiliated, the High Marshal of the Black Templars had been helpless as a child before the alien warlord.

He reached out and wiped some of the grime from the mirror. It helped little; the old, stained glass reflected a battered, lined face, warped where the mirror had long ago been bent slightly askew. An appropriate image to match Helbrecht's grim mood.

Imotekh the Stormlord had taken much from him - his pride as a warrior, his reputation as a leader of men; the alien had even taken from him the grace of an honorable defeat, instead castigating the fallen Templar with his insults. But he had taken even more than that from the High Marshal, and to think of his loss made the man's shoulder ache in remembrance. Metallic fingers opened and clacked closed, ceramite plates shifting in mimicry of flexing muscles.

The Stormlord had taken his arm.

---------------------------------------------------------------

The door banged shut as he stepped from the cabin into the cold of the outdoors. Taking a deep breath, Helbrecht felt his lungs burn with the freezing air before he let it out in a long, smoking huff. He could have insulated himself, had he donned his armor - the regulatory systems would have isolated him from the sub-zero temperature.

But no, no golden armor waited to enclose his body this day. No finery for a penitent man. Instead Helbrect dressed simply in hobnailed boots, wool tunic, a battered set of leggings. But for his size, he might have been any one of millions of iceworlders throughout the Imperium.

The wooden stairs groaned softly as he stepped down from the cabin's porch, shuffling through the freshly-fallen snow. There he paused for a moment to look out upon the Imperial encampment. Land raiders of his chapter were parked in clusters like fallen bricks, while prefabricated buildings housed the men of the Guard that had accompanied their crusade. In the dull grey of pre-dawn, they were all rendered a chalky off-white color. Just looking at them, Helbrecht could feel the promise of human amenities - food and drink, internal heating and fresh clothes.

He shook his head and rolled his shoulders as if to ward off the thought. He took a few steps, feeling the snow cling to his lower legs - the night's fresh layer had brought it up to his knees. Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted the familiar dark shape of his landspeeder parked beside the log cabin. Two of his men were seated in the front seats, and one of them acknowledged the High Marshal's look with a lift of his hand. Helbrecht nodded and turned back around.

As he began to jog, he heard the soft voice of the landspeeder hum to life, his honor guard dutifully trailing after their leader.

Did he still deserve such loyalty? He, a man succumbed to the might of an alien foe? Helbrecht grimaced once more, folding his hands into tight fists and lifting one to snap it out at the air as he contemplated the question.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sweat beaded on his brow and shoulders. His muscles burned as he fired off punches with such force that the armored Templar holding the bag in place was rocked backwards with each blow.

The cabin's windows were dark, the pale sun long having faded beneath the horizon. The only light in the cabin came from the fire crackling in the hearth and the lantern that hung from the ceiling. The common room of the cabin was close with the bodies of three men, two of them bearing armor. A meal of bread, rice porridge and fruit juice sat untouched on an endtable as Helbrecht focused his attention on the bag, hollow thuds filling the room as his fists struck again and again.

"My armor is contempt!" the reclusiarch called out.

"My armor is contempt!" Helbrecht echoed, firing off a one-two set that knocked the bag's material into his brother's midsection.

"My shield is disgust!" Grimaldus' voice was pitiless as he watched the High Marshal's exercise.

"My shield is disgust!" Helbrecht answered, striking again with his augment. The servos were becoming more sure with time, more reliable as they synced to the High Marshal's nervous system. More and more, the blows landed as he intended.

"My sword is hatred!" Grimaldus continued.

"My sword is hatred!" Helbrecht bobbed as his man shifted the bag before lashing out once more, picturing the phaeron's face beneath his fists with every blow.

"No pity!"

"No pity!"

"No remorse!"

"No remorse!"

"No fear!"

"No fear!"

"NO FEAR!" Grimaldus bellowed, hammering the butt of his crozius against the wooden floor.

"NO FEAR!" Helbrecht matched him, blood crusting at the knuckles of his living hand.

------------------------------------------

His head was bowed as if in penitence, his arms spread like the symbol of the chapter cross.

Helbrecht's breath was fire in his throat. Despite the light of the noonday sun, the snow remained nearly up to his knees as he trudged, step by step through the Imperial camp. Men's eyes were upon him - some pitying, some reverent - but he paid them little mind as he made his way towards his destination.

The tank barrel laid across his shoulders wobbled as he swayed to and fro, and at one point Helbrecht let it get the better of him, falling to one knee as the left end plunged into the snow, sticking there. The High Marshal groaned in frustration, and one of his men instinctively started forwards to aid him only to be stopped by Apothecary Korble, the High Marshal's squadmate shaking his head in warning.

Gritting his teeth, Helbrecht bowed his head further to let the tank barrel roll onto his neck, hitching his shoulders and slowly rising, pulling the steel from the snow's grip before standing and resuming his pace, his knees shaking beneath him as he fought to regain his bearing. For a moment, his mind placed him once more on that land bridge, facing the necron foe, having been felled and unable to rise as pain flooded his body. He angrily shook off the memory and spat into the snow.

Upon reaching his goal, he threw the long barrel to the ground atop the spread canvas, letting it clang heavily against its mates already lying there. Rolling his head, the High Marshal flexed his shoulders in relief to have the heavy weight gone.

The Vostroyan major waiting for him inspected the delivery before looking back to the Black Templar, his expression pitiless. "We need one more, High Marshal," he said.

Helbrecht nodded and went to get it.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another run in the pre-dawn, his escort tailing him. The troops had celebrated a kill of an enemy superheavy tank earlier that night. Helbrecht had partaken in none of it.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Land Raider Valiance of Kordhel had taken severe damage and its engine had been disabled. With storms predicted for later that evening, the techmarines desired it moved into a temporary garage so that the vehicle's maintenance could be seen to without interference from the weather.

The cables bit into Helbrecht's shoulders as he leaned into their grip. Gritting his teeth, the High Marshal let out a low grunt as he pulled his foot from the snow and determinedly set it down just a short distance ahead of his last print. The land raider's tracks obligingly cycled as the machine followed him.

The wind was beginning to pick up, lifting snow from the ground and creating a pale haze around him.

Helbrecht seethed and lowered his center of mass, doggedly pressing against the grip of the anchoring cables. His feet slid in the snow as he fought for traction, urgently pressing for any forward gain whatsoever. The pain as the steel cords sank into his flesh brought to mind the memory of blood and pain as Imotekh had cut his arm from his shoulder, that same disorientation and overwhelming weariness flooding him.

Helbrecht growled defiance and made the choice of dropping briefly onto all fours, bracing his hobnailed boots against the ground and using both hands and legs to push for momentum. The land raider glided forward and Helbrecht managed to get to his feet, pulling the vehicle for several meters before his brief success faded and he was once more fighting for traction.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The wood split with a thunk. Helbrecht bent to retrieve the two pieces, tossing them onto the pile before taking another uncut log and setting it upright before taking up the axe and splitting that one as well. Without fire, his cabin would drop well below freezing during the night - the night was cold and pitiless as the depths of space.

Helbrecht split another log. There was something wholesome about the routine task - to work with a simple blade of iron such as might be used by any man, rather than the finely-honed blades of a space marine. He could feel the resistance of the wood as the axe bit through it, powered by nothing more than Helbrecht's weight and muscle.

He'd become too soft. Accustomed to his artificer armor and the sanctified Blade of the High Marshals.

The axe bit through another log.

A sword was no weapon. A set of armor was no savior.

Another log.

Faith and fire. Dogged resilience. That was the essence of a man.

Another log. Another blow to that alien face that haunted his memory.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

His men were cheering, but it was entirely drowned out by the sound of blood roaring in his ears.

Helbrecht groaned aloud, shaking sweat from his brow. His joints were on fire, his fingers numb as he strained, arching his back. His knees quaked with effort and his breath came through gritted teeth as he pulled with ferocious effort.

The prow of the landspeeder rose a few more inches. The deactivated engines pressed back into the snow with the increasing angle, his honor guard leaning back in their seats as the vehicle tilted beneath them.

"Any challenge..." Grimaldus' voice echoed in his ears.

Helbrecht took a step forward, getting more of his weight underneath the landspeeder and heaving, getting the palm of one hand under the nose and doing the same with his augment a few moments later. The vehicle groaned softly as the High Marshal lifted it further, tendons standing out on his neck with his monumental effort.

"...no matter the odds!"

The landspeeder's nose came to the level of his chin and the High Marshal let out a roar, spittle flecking his lips as he summoned the strength for one final, mighty heave that saw him raise the vehicle's prow up and over his head, his arms straightening until they locked in place.

Around him, the Black Templars howled in approval.

He held the vehicle aloft for a few moments to ensure that none present could call his achievement a fluke and then stepped back, pulling his arms away to let the vehicle thud back down to the ground in a brief flurry of snow. His honor guard rocked back and forth in their seats with the sudden drop. Helbrecht's shoulders rose and fell with each gasping breath, his teeth gritted in a hard-fought smile.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

He ran through the snow at a full clip, leaving furrows behind him as he all but sprinted through the knee-high drifts. His arms threw punches as he ran, making his muscles burn. His boots splashed as he crossed a low stream, freezing water soaking into his leggings. He paid it no mind.

There were mountains to the west of the encampment, and as Helbrecht's once more took him past the foothills, he suddenly broke from his typical circuit to make for one of the nearby peaks. Behind him, his honor guards' landspeeder swerved, kicking up a cloud of snow as it followed in his wake.

The ground rapidly inclined beneath him, jagged stone breaking through the snow as he ascended the slope. Soon enough he was using his hands as much as his feet to continue on, clambering over the rock and ice. The landspeeder's prow banged off a rock and the engines whined as the incline proved too much for the vehicle. One of the men slid from his seat and planted an armored boot on the solid ground, calling out after Helbrecht's retreating back, "Lord Marshal! Lord Marshal!"

Helbrecht didn't acknowledge him, hardly slowing in his pace. From time to him he managed to gain enough speed that he could run without using his hands to aid him in his ascent, his body swaying as the winds that curled around the peak battered at him. Soon enough he was beyond the treeline and still ascending.

He could hear Imotekh's voice in the howl of the wind - so little! they snarled. Shameful! Failure!

Helbrecht shook them off and leapt to the next ledge, pulling himself up on the strength of his arms alone. The peak was in sight, and as if the mountain itself bowed in defeat the steep incline leveled off as Helbrecht came towards the very top, looking out on the vista of clouded ranges to the west.

His body was bursting with the effort of his rapid climb, and Helbrecht breathed in deeply, raising his arms as if to challenge the pale sun above and the whole of the world below him.

"STOOOORMLOOOOOORD!" he bellowed.

And as his voice echoed from the peaks around him, it drowned out the cloying memory of Imotekh's insult, letting it fade away to nothing.

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The battle barge shook with the impact of enemy fire as the Templars' fleet dove into the midst of the necrons' formation.

"Ophidium Gulf and Pride of Declates reporting heavy bombardment!" called out the voice of the vox operator. "The Gulf is falling behind!"

"Target match on enemy flagship," the ship's master of ordinance reported. He turned to face the battle barge's commander. "Profile matches the Inevitable Conqueror."

Resplendant in his golden power armor, High Marshal Helbrecht of the Black Templars leveled his sword, a bloody smile upon his face.

"Make for that ship," he ordered. "And ready boarding torpedoes. I have a score to settle."
Last edited by Kuja on 2014-01-16 07:22pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Kuja
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Re: Warhammer 40K: Brazen Hearts

Post by Kuja » 2014-01-16 07:08pm

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Re: Warhammer 40K: Brazen Hearts

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2014-01-16 07:55pm

Awesome!
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Ahriman238
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Re: Warhammer 40K: Brazen Hearts

Post by Ahriman238 » 2014-01-16 08:41pm

I put on the wrong Rocky music, Rocky instead of Rocky IV.

Still incredibly entertaining, and something you could see Helbrecht doing.
"Any plan which requires the direct intervention of any deity to work can be assumed to be a very poor one."- Newbiespud

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