Blackshield (Short Story)
|This article is about the Short Story, for the other uses see Blackshield (disambiguation)|
Even within the dread annals of the Horus Heresy, few events have provoked as much horror as the dropsite massacre on Isstvan V, when the Space Marines turned on their brothers in an orgy of slaughter. The Legions were torn apart, the civil war spiralling outwards to all corners of the Imperium, shattering the trust that once bound them together. Along with a handful of other renegade Death Guard legionaries, ex-Deathshroud Terminator Sergeant Khorak has begun to raid the fringes of the Imperium - until they are cornered by mysterious warriors in crudely painted black armour, led by another fallen son of Mortarion, the Blackshield Crysos Morturg. Can the two gene-brothers set aside their differences, or is history deemed to repeat itself?
Read It Because: This tale introduces a character from Forge World's Isstvan Campaign books into Black Library's Heresy works, and delves into some of the mysteries of the Blackshields.
On the 'Ghogolla, ex-Deathshroud Terminator Sergeant Khorak of the Death Guard Legion stood on the bridge as they traveled to Agarvian in the Leops system. The mortal master of the ship, Narag, approached regarding ships pursuing them but they could not tell their allegiance but their intent to destroy them was clear. Khorak made it clear that they must try to read Agarvian. They were able to pass the gas giant Hereb as they made haste, and Khorak left the bridge to speak with the four remaining of his fellow legionaries, including Hesch, his lieutenant. Urgain, Turgalla, and Lyphas. They board their Stormbird Skarvor as they came under fire, determining to fight on the planet then die in space, and they make their way down to the planet as the Ghogolla was blasted apart behind them, using the ship's destruction to hide their actions.
The pursuing ships were soon able to target the Stormbird but it was able to hide in the thick methane and sulfur clouds of Agarvian. The planet itself was similar to Barbarus, covered with swamp. After landing and debarking, the legionaries moved out as three black-clad Thunderhawks appeared out of the clouds. Urgain stayed behind, taking the Stormbird to meet the threat. He was able to hit one before his one of own engines was blasted. Turgalla took up a missile launcher, firing and downing one of the ships, but the two remaining ships fired on the Stormbird more. As the dogfight continued, Khorak led his men away to make use of Urgain's sacrifice. Eventually, Urgain was able to down another Thunderhawk but was brought down by the last.
As night fell, the legionaries continued to hide from pursuit as they traveled. They could hear more gunships canvasing the area and troops landing. Hesch was wounded, but they made progress through the swamp. Eventually, they made it to rising land as dawn broke, and they finally stopped as they made it to a large, rocky gorge covered in jungle. There was one way in, with swamp covering the way, and they used the area to make their defensive stand. They waited for 4 days before their pursuers reached them, 12 black-clad legionaries without any identifying symbols and marching in different manners. Khorak ordered the ambush to take them out, quickly killing 10 of them. More reinforcements came, but they too were downed.
Khorak's men were able to kill many before Turgalla was blasted. Soon after, Lyphas was killed, and their attack stopped in order to confuse the pursuers. Eventually, the pursuers came into hand to hand combat, and Khorak used his scythe to slay those who came near. Hesch was blasted, but Khorak was safe due to his Terminator plate. As Khorak came down to meet the pursuers, they stopped firing and instead backed away. He challenged them, and a heavily augmented warrior came forward, saying Khorak's appearance was impossible that a Deathshroud could have been given a voice and leave from his primarch, Mortarion. Khorak called them blackshields and demanded the warrior's name, and he removed his helmet and revealed himself as Crysos Morturg, formerly of the Death Guard but allied to no one. Morturg admitted that he was once on Isstvan III, but that no one survived.
Khorak explained he was a traitor until Molech, which caused him to have doubt in the new allies and ways of the Death Guard. He felt that Mortarion betrayed them by allying with witches. This provoked him to take back his name and becoming independent from all, still of Barbarus but no longer following Mortarion. Morturg asked if Khorak would be willing to kill Mortarion, and Khorak admitted he would and was all he strove to do. Before Morturg could say something, the wounded Hesch was able to move forward and fire his bolter to kill Morgurg. The bolt was stopped, and Khorak believed it was through witchery. Morturg's form began to waiver, which confused Khorak and he wondered how he was there if no one survived the massacre. The use of sorcery upset Khorak, and he tried to strike Morturg but was shot multiple times. He fell, brought down by the shots, and looked up at Morturg as he was dying, accusing him of being a ghost.
Morturg's legionaries pillaged all they could and brought it back to the strike-cruiser Malice. His troops were a mixture of Death Guard loyalties, members of the Shattered Legion, and others unidentifiable. Morturg was locked in a chamber with a hololith depicting Calleb Decima of the Mechanicum. Decima was the one that placed Morturg's psyche in the metal body, relying on technology and sorcery that would have been prohibited by Terra or Mortarion in the past. Morturg's mission was to hunt down Death Guard loyal to Mortarion, and he lamented to Decima how useful Khorak could have been. In reflection, Morturg decided that it was time to return to Terra and speak with the Emperor.
- 1 "Blackshield"