You sit down at the desk aboard Watch Outpost Iter Emensus and carefully flex the fingers of your left arm. You are still getting used to the feeling of the metal digits, as well as the extra strength and dexterity its exceptional craftsmanship provides. You stare at the paperwork on the desk. The bland phrases of efficiency reports stare back at you from the scrolls.
It concerns Hagrdict and his conduct under your command while deployed to the Capitalist Congestus. On one hand, his performance as an apothecary was as exemplary as any apothecary seconded to the Deathwatch. He was responsible for bringing Gorlin back alive after that run-in with the eldar and the wraithguards.
On the other hand Hagrdict was responsible for bringing on that fight, and only your order to ‘open fire’ just before Hagrdict actually shot stands between Hagrdict and a dismissal from the Deathwatch for Conduct Unbecoming.
You haven’t pulled any punches in the Efficiency Report so far, and you decide against even attempting to. Hagrdict will no longer serve in your squad, and you do not want him under your command ever again. It will mean the severe curtailment of Hagrdict’s time with the Deathwatch, and this report will follow him back to the Black Templars. You imagine that he will be doing Penance for his transgressions for many years to come.
Satisfied, you put your signature to the report-scroll and set it aside to be picked up by a servo skull. Next on your list of paperwork to complete is Losis’ Efficiency Report. His is more straightforward: exemplary performance, a good blend of initiative and attention to orders, proper conduct in the face of the enemy. It will stand Losis in good stead while the Chaplains and Librarians are conducting their investigation.
Losis himself is in quarantine, awaiting clearance to return to normal duties. Having been twice teleported by hostile forces, and also survived two temporal flux events as the result of hostile psychic attacks, you can find no fault with the decision to quarantine Losis until the investigation is completed. The potential danger of a Space Marine ‘snapping’ and turning renegade (or worse) mid-mission is nothing to be considered lightly. You expect Losis will come through with flying colors in a few months, but for now he is out of the fight.
Gorlin’s scrollwork is next, and like Losis you have no problems with him or his performance. Indeed, you applaud him for not being overly aggressive. You had expected to have to hold him back a time or two, but that never happened. Given his wounds and extensive augmetic repairs, you suspect that he will be rotated back to the Flesh Tearers instead of continuing to serve with the Deathwatch. While still fit to fight by the standards of any normal Chapter, he no longer has that extra little unquantifiable edge needed for service in the Deathwatch.
You sigh as you realise that Your kill-team is now a squad of one: just you.
You are interrupted by the sound of a body being slammed into a wall. Opening the compartment door to see what is going on, you are interrupted by Gorlin ramming you in the chest with an arm on his way past.
“Srrgh. Stay back Hunter.”
You follow Gorlin into the hall, running towards the noise. “What in the name of the Primarchs is going on?”
“Nnrgh. No time. Take the next left, find Chaplain Michaelis, and tell him…”
A Chaplain appears around a corner running towards you.
“Hrgh, never mind, just stay clear.”
You slow down, then catch sight of the winged bloodrop iconography of the Blood Angels on the Chaplain’s Pauldron. You cock your head, asking a silent question.
The Chaplain shakes his head in answer, then follows Gorlin around a turn in the corridor. You slow to a walk and turn back to your borrowed office. Whatever the issue is, it’s a ‘family’ affair best left to the Blood Angels and their successor Chapters.
You sit back down in your office and do your best to ignore the sounds of hand-to-hand combat coming from just down the corridor. You are still awaiting word on the repairs to your power armor, though given that it has been two weeks you are half-expecting a summons to the armory to select an entirely new suit.
The sounds of combat dies down, so you head over to see if Gorlin or Chaplain Michaelis need a hand.
Gorlin meets you halfway down the corridor, shaking his head and cradling one of his augmetic arms.
“Brgh. Battle-frenzy happened. Remember how it took me a moment to settle back down when we first met? Battle-brother Irum, Angels Sanguine, got pushed to that point by a pair of incompetent menials. Something about ‘not being smart enough to open an airlock the right way.’ Chaplain has Irum sorted out, but the menials are so much paste an the decks.”
“Blood Angel and Successor Chapter affair?”
“I will ask no more then. Come, I will take you to the armorium to get that arm looked at.”
“Rrgh. Appreciate it.”
A few minutes later…
You are met at the gates of the armorium by a Techmarine and a pair of master-artisans. Gorlin follows the artisans to a table, where they open up their toolkits, strap his arm down, and get to work. The techmarine motions for you to follow him deeper into the armorium with the servo-arm on his back.
“Scout-Sergeant Marcellus, my apologies for not contacting you sooner. The damage to your power armor was most severe. Were it a suit of mark 7 manufacture the repairs would have been routine, though extensive. Unfortunately I lack the means to effectively rebuild a suit of mark 4 Power Armor, which leaves us both in an uncomfortable position.”
“What do you mean?”
“The armorium of a Watchpost is not that of a Watch Fortress. There is only one other suit of functional mark 4 armor available, should you desire to keep wearing warplate befit your station and renown as a Scout-Sergeant of four centuries.”
“The suit recovered aboard the Capitalis Congestus.”
“Precisely. Alternatively, I do have a suit of the new mark 9 Power Armor available and unassigned.”
“Mark 9? I have not heard of any new marks of armor.”
“Mark 9 is something of an administrative designation, similar to mark 5. Both are field-improved variants of their preceding marks, 8 and 4 respectively.”
“And you would like me to choose between these two suits?”
“Momentarily. First I am to present you with a signature piece of wargear. I understand that your power sword was destroyed shortly before your secondment to the Deathwatch, and that you surrendered the force sword that you recovered and were using in its place. Watch Command authorized me to grant you this, as a permanent addition to your wargear, in its place.”
The Techmarine gestures to a long box made of nalwood, its pale grain grown darker with age and wax. You reverently open the lid to find a blade inside.
A blade is something of an understatement to the glory of the weapon in the case. You run your flesh-and-blood fingers over the omega icon of the Ultramarines worked into the ork-hide leather of the scabbard. The gilded guard is simple horizontal bar. There is no crossguard, the blade being straight with a twin-taper and the familiar plunging point of a gladius-pattern blade. The hilt is made of tyranid warrior wing-membrane wrapped with silver wire around a nalwood core. The pommel is a skull surrounded by another omega. You lift the blade from the box and pull it from the scabbard. The blade its triple-fullered, and sports the identifying spinal ridge of a powerfield generator.
“The blade is known as Betrayer’s Bane. It was last wielded by Battle-brother Calanus of the Ultramarines. It has remained in the armorium of this Watchpost, in the care of the Deathwatch, until a suitable Ultramarine could be found to wield it and eventually bring it home to the Ultramarines once more.”
“Do not thank me for giving onto you your just rewards. Wield them with honor, Scout-Sergeant Marcellus.”
You sheathe Betrayer’s Bane and hang it from your cingulus. It feels… right at your hip As if you were meant to carry it. “I will.”
“I do not doubt you. Come, your Power Armor awaits.”
Two suits of Power Armor stand ready for inspection. On your left is the suit of mark 4 plate that you recovered from the Khamsin. It has been stripped back to bare ceramite and metal and painted anew in the uncompromising black of the Deathwatch. You get the feeling that there is a wealth of history and quirks within its freshly-painted plates, things that may work to your advantage… or detriment.
On your right is the suit of ‘mark 9’ plate. You recognise many elements from the mark 8 plate that you are familiar with: The thick chestplate and high gorget to protect the throat in particular. The arms and legs look thicker as well, boasting reinforced ceramite plating. The paint is fresh and shiny, and you can almost hear the joints squeak as they wear in from the factory fit.