Prologue II – The Mantis Warriors

+++ Year 950.M41 Ultima Segmentum +++
+++ Mantis Warriors 3rd penitentiary crusading fleet on route to Fargo –  Sector capital +++
+++ Strike Cruiser “Venomous” +++

Oliphias was running as if hosts of hell were after him. In fact that was not far from truth. His descent to the lower levels of strike cruiser “Venomous” was marked with several accidents of which crossing ways with gun loaders gangs was most troubling for him. He had a blood feud with several members of this aggressive organization and was promised a brutal death on many occasions by its members.

Yet since he was a chapter servant, and one seconded to 3rd Company Reclusiarch Galfridus, his mind was troubled with more urgent matters than the revenge of gangers. Two hours ago the bridge received distress call from neighbouring star system named Jorus. Since penitent crusade that Mantis Warriors were currently on, brought the Chapter’s 3rd Company to this region of space they have battled every foe they came across as an effort to repent for their transgressions in the past. Most recently they have purged Ragas sub-sector from Orc infestation, and after successfully completing the task they embarked on a journey to Fargo in order to resupply the fleet. By the judgement of Inquisition and their brother Chapters Mantis Warriors were not allowed to draft new recruits until they were not done with their penance, yet they were still allowed to resupply when needed.

Oliphias kept running through narrow corridors in an effort to reach Reclusiarch in his private quarters and deliver urgent news about received distress call. Galfridus was not responding to any vox hails from the bridge therefore Oliphias had to deliver a data slate with the message in person.

When he finally reached the chamber doors, he stopped to catch his breath and look around if he was not followed by the gang members. The protective aura of being Reclusiarch’s servant kept him alive yet again and he eluded death one more time.

After short while he pressed the console on the left side of bulwark doors and waited admission. Doors parted and allowed him entrance. First thing he noticed was the irritating smell of incense and thousands upon thousands of candles lit in the chamber. He left antechamber and followed in to the main room. The heat from the candles made a pleasant difference compared to the cold of lower level corridors.

A lone figure was kneeling in the room’s center. Surrounded by candles Reclusiarch Galfridus was occupied with self-flagellation. Blood dripped from his back and made a small pool of quickly coagulating fluid around his feet and knees.

“He must be doing this for hours now, if not days!” Thought Oliphias to himself. Astartes wounds heal incredibly fast, but Galfridus kept on flogging himself to prevent the coagulation. His back bore evidence of countless hits form of both fresh wounds and old scars of various origin.

“Master Galfridus I have urgent message that you need to be informed about, let me…” Oliphias was interrupted by Galfridus who tossed the flail to the ground and stood up, still standing with his back to the intruder. Then Oliphias realized Astartes was completely naked but for the peace of cloth around his waist. “His head is bare!” Oliphias realized with horror, “That’s not good, no not at all, warp damn it!”. Death Wardens as Mantis Warriors called their Chaplains, wore helmets with a representation of bone white skull on their heads at all times. No-one, especially those not of Adeptus Astartes were allowed to see faces of Death Wardens. Looking upon the face of one of them was considered grievous disrespect.

“Master I didn’t know you committed to the meditation…” Started Oliphias and was brutally interrupted once again.

“Silence!” Spoke Galfridus with a voice demanding immediate and unquestionable obedience.
Oliphias bowed his head as low as he was able to.

Galfridus turned around and walked towards standing serf.

“You know the rules Oliphias, yet you disrespected me with disobedience. Disobedience is a sin, committing to sin is heresy, and heresy is treason in the eyes of God Emperor. Treason should be punished.” Death Warden made a pause, and in the silence Oliphias loudly swallowed salvia that gathered in his mouth out of fear.

“The only punishment adequate for treason is death” Recited Galfridus, and while he spoke the last words he crushed Oliphias skull with his bare hand. He watched convulsing body of his servant fall on the floor and he shake bloody pulp of Oliphias’s brain-matter and skull fragments off of his hands. Then he took data slate that Oliphias brought with him and started reading through the report.

“Your soul will be grateful to me Oliphias. Your transgression was justly served with punishment. Justice that we were denied after our own treachery. We must bare eternal shame of being treated mercifully. Even though we never asked for one. We should all be already dead, and your death was a privilege that we were deprived.”

Galfridus stood there analysing the details on data slate for several more minutes and afterwards he turned towards his armour and prepared to meet the company commanders. Oliphias was right after all, the matter was urgent.

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