What Dreams May Come (FT, Closed. Attn. CW)
OOC: This tentatively takes place after GoA (Ghosts of Asfaltum)
Peace gripped the universe. Night descended upon a dozen worlds while others barely roused themselves to the light of emergent stars. The Galaxy fluctuated in endless diurnal cycles, twisting between darkness and light.
There is a world where no sunlight touches. A world whose skies are roaring wounds in the fabric of reality, twisted around orbs of black stone, carved with the glyphs of Chaos itself. Upon one such world, Remiel De Drakan, Lord and Master of the Imperium by the will of the Gods, waits. His flesh is bare, glistening in the firelight, sweat upon every inch of exposed skin. He closes his eyes, smelling the rising incense, tasting the potions that have been forced upon his flesh, leaving it to gleam like woad.
He begins to speak, a bitter and hissed argot, echoing about him with each breath. He hears the psykers that scuttle about the chamber, whispering with both lips and mind. He echoed their incants, letting his mind slip from his body, forcing the writhing form that counted for his soul outwards and upwards. He was one with the words, one with the Warp, he was one with his Gods and their maddening whispers.
And he was elsewhere.
Remiel De Drakan stood upon a beach, clad entirely in his battle plate. He raised his eyes skyward, the sunlight refracting hard off of his armor as he knelt, reaching down to crush the grains between his gauntleted fingers. He chuckled lightly. He turned, beholding architecture that he recognised from some long gone place…A place that would have so much significance.
He turned, shuddering at a sudden breeze, the world shifting as a distant wind picked up. A storm was coming, physically and metaphorically. He rose to his feet, brushing sand from himself with a shake, turning to regard the greenery beyond the sand. He paused, almost smiling.
He turned, and slowly began to walk along the beach, unencumbered by his power armor, bestriding the shore like some sea-god risen from the depths. Towards the figure who seemed to regard him with confusion.
The breeze flowed over the cloak. Unlike the Warmaster, the one before him wore simple Jedi robes, brown and tan. It is a difference between the two men that goes beyond simple words. A difference in abilities, in politics, in fundamental philosophy.
A Jedi Knight and a Chaos Warrior. Emperors both. Enemies eternal.
He chuckles softly, his mirth carried by the wind. He is Emperor, Warmaster, glorious warrior of the Imperium, chosen of his Gods. He knows in his heart that they are the way, the only truth. Were he some raging fanatic, he would never have risen so far, instead he relies upon his belief. That makes him all the more dangerous, that he believes, that he is determined that every action he engages in is justified.
"Do you know where we are?" He gestures, his hands raised to the sky, indicating the entire world about him. The wind whips at his hair, his pale, flawless features auraed by wild black hair.
"Do you remember this place Daniel? Do you know what is to come? What has gone before?"
I looked around, recalling past battles with Chronosia. Then it hit me. "Naboo. This is Naboo, the world you've trashed. It wasn't the first, and it wouldn't be the last."
"Lucian blessed it with the touch of Nurgle, and he brought his judgement to the unfaithful. So many of them, both man....Less than man, mere beasts in the face of human glory. You corrupt yourself with the touch of aliens and heathens, Daniel. You debase the lineage of Coredia with every stinking breath you allow them to take..." He chuckled softly, looking skyward again.
"I'll never stop Daniel, never stop my deliverance. This galaxy, this universe...It reeks of sin, of heresy. Only I can stop, only I can deliver it to its true Masters. The Universe deserves their blessing. As do you. I have given you chances to convert, to submit to the will of Chaos.
But you've always rejected the righteous path. The Throne of your homeland is mine, bound to Chaos by the blood of the Treacherous One. He hunts the shadows, starved for vengeance, a dark army at his back.
The first of many signs."
"Then you know that I would never cease to stop you. Neither me, nor my family, friends and allies will miss an opportunity to take you down. The Universe does not deserve the likes of you and your gods."
"Your strengths, aren't they? Friends...Family. All your allies are for nothing in the end, Daniel. You'll die alone on the wreck of your Empire and the doom of your principles. You'll realise that I am a natural part of life. I am death, entropy, madness. I am the dark that men fear.
How long have you cowered from the Dark Side, and knew that it was but a sliver of the might of Chaos? That no atrocity the Sith hurled at you could equal what I have done..." He grins, chuckling. "The Universe is lucky to be blessed with dedication such as mine. Vindication that will never fade"
"Hmph. You sure about that?" I asked with mild amusement. "You think the universe will allow you to run unchecked? Even if you kill me, even if you wipe out every last one of my people, there will always be a threat to you, to your Chaos. One day, that threat will be your end, and the ruination of your gods' foul dreams."
"My Gods are eternal" He chuckled, almost sneering as he leant forward. "Even if I die and all my empire is as dust, still others will serve them. For they are the fire that rages in the heart of every living being, the power behind the curtain, making reality run to their designs.
I have fought off the dogs of the False Emperor, clawed my way through the ranks of the Empire to this moment. With systems in my grasp and civilisations under my boot. All for them. All for the glory of Chaos.
I have faith that shall not die with this fleshy shell, instead I shall reign supreme...At their side. Even in death, I shall serve them. As a martyr to the cause. As an idol, a God for others to venerate.
I shall be undying."
He paused, looking skyward again. "It's coming. Soon, Daniel. The storm will break."
I saw the lining in the distant horizon as my cloak floated in the stiff breeze. "Then it shall remain to be seen who will survive the storm. You're not the only one who can reach out and serve the living even after death."
"When I died, Daniel." He paused for a moment, almost as though considering what he would say next, as though nervous at the very idea of voicing his thoughts. "They showed me things. They showed me the future. I saw humanity broken and scattered, screaming their hatred against the cold dark. I saw the universe collapsing in on itself, and all within it withered and dead.
I saw hopelessness and despair. The Empire was gone, the Imperium a memory, the Rebels fractured and disillusioned. My father's path would have led us all screaming into the void.
And then I wondered, what if it could be changed? With the might of the Gods behind them, Mankind could rise triumphant, conquering and subjugating. Enlightened and empowered enough to hold the human race together, to send its enemies howling into dissolution." He chuckled. "You fail to see the need to prune off the Alien, to lay low their heretical works.
We are purity, and we are strength." He let his eyes move upwards, from Daniel's face, to the sky above.
"Only through me can this galaxy be redeemed. Only through me can our race prosper. For I am the hand and the fist, closed around the throats of the unworthy, forcing them to repent."
The sky split, first with a flash of ruinous power, aglow with the power of the Warp. Ships could be seen, high above, prowling the void like sharks, intent upon the world below them. Crackling discharge danced in the air, the wind gleaming as it picked up yet again, Remiel's hair seemed to aura his face.
The sky split. Again, and again, with a howl as the first projectiles began to fall. The sea pulsed as each blast hit it, great waves slamming against the shore, the water bubbling and boiling from the dire reactions taking place beneath the surface. Forests and jungles were shattered, wood and foliage hurled into the air along with great geysers of dirt and mud, even as the forests withered and rotted beneath the touch that was levied against it.
The citadels and ancient strongholds of the people of Naboo were broken beneath the orbital onslaught, rock rained from the heavens down onto a populace who were already rotting, twisting as the necrosis swept their flesh.
Remiel laughed, his armor seeming aflame beneath the ministrations of the virus that now wreathed the world. He was unaffected, bestriding the fray like some terrible god, his arms spread, accepting the deaths of so many.
And then the sky caught fire. A single shot set the atmosphere aflame, the gases generated by so much decay igniting, fire swallowed cities, it ate entire continents. The seas boiling, vapour blotting out the sun as waves of boiling filth crashed against the blazing shore, disgorging countless twisted and dying creatures.
Remiel was untouched, standing as he watched Daniel, watched him relive the death of Naboo. His face was a twisted mask of limitless joy, a grimace of obscene pleasure. And then he began to laugh, as the fire descended over them.
The horrors of Naboo's burning tore into my mind. I clutched my head, willing the images to go away, but to no avail. I saw and felt the heat of the bombardments. I smelt the smoke. I tasted hot ash.
And then...I woke up. I sat up, sweat soaking the sheets of my bed, panting as if from a lightsaber duel.
"Dear?" Katrina asked on the other side of the bed, groggy but sensing my apprehension.
"Nothing, Kat'. Just a nightmare." I ran my fingers through my hair.
"Hm. You've been having more of them recently." Katrina curled up besides me. "You should talk with Master Rydo."
"Maybe later. Right now, I'm going for a walk." I muttered as I moved to grab a tunic and pants.
As Daniel walked out, Katrina felt worried for him. He's been getting less sleep over the past few weeks, pouring over battle reports or intelligence analyses or simply walking aimlessly among the leaves of Fire Country. Something was bothering him and unless he would talk about it, it would only grow and fester. Maybe it's just the war. It hasn't been going well recently, what with the Colonies and all. Maybe.
He shuddered, feeling the maddening heat and corruption pulse through his flesh as he bestrode the dying world like a Titan. He had tasted the death of worlds before, but what he was drawing forth was utterly real, total visceral. He could feel every last lifeform thrashing and flailing in their death throes, flesh split by the ruinous viral infestation that heralded the march of the great Destroyer. The image would be pulsing within the mind of his opponent, he was certain.
Dead worlds, ravaged and despoiled humanity, a thousand atrocities laid down before the altars of obscene Gods. That was, after all, the way of Chaos. The way of Remiel.
Soon it would come, Remiel could sense it, the cleansing wave of fire to purge all that Masaki and his brood had wrought. Their offences, manifold, would be repaid in full. But it would not be they who suffered first, instead he would levy judgement against all that the fiend loved...For to kill a man, and all his beliefs, they must first be broken in spirit.
He would smile to see it, even as he smiled now, feeling his rapture blossom forth into undeniable ecstacy. He felt himself leaving this conjured reality, drifting back into the warmth and embrace of the Warp, back through the Aethyr and to his waiting body....
His eyes flew open, his mouth stretching wide as he screamed, back arching, toes curling as he felt his soul explode back into his flesh, alive with madness and glory. He was aglow with it, flesh pulsing and crackling with warpfire as he became whole again, watchign as the Psykers cowered and shrunk from his power.
"Attend me!", came the raw bellow from his throat, and suddenly he was swamped by slaves, figners drifting over his flesh and through his hair, potent liquors forced to his lips. He let a grin slide across his marble features, his flawless face seeming more powerful, more youthful than ever.
"Bring me my Captains...There is work to be done. An old friend awaits my indulgence...
Though they don't yet know it..."
Leaping from roof to roof, tree to tree, I struggled to rid myself of the horrid images of the destruction of Naboo. Even the cool air of the night was no help as my mind went straight towards trying to anticipate Remiel's next move. I jumped towards a cliff and stopped, sitting down on the edge. I contemplated the recent events, the dream, seeking to divine his next move.
1. The Colonies have been torn apart by civil war, brought on by Remiel wrapping his little finger around Admiral Cain. All that is left now are the Remnant, commanded by President Roslin and Admiral Adama. That has totally torn apart a potent ally against the Empire.
2. The dream has shown me the past. It has also shown me a glimpse of the future.
3. From these two events, and others lately, I can deduce that events will once more come to a head, that I'm being led by the nose by Remiel and the Imperials. That it will be big.
I mused some more and tried to discern his next move. Then, it hit me. "Oh no..."
Remiel had returned to his Legion, to his troops already blooded in the fires of the Colonies. Together they had brought worlds to their knees across all of known space, fought the Long War for the glory of Chaos. He had pitted his finest Champions against the Loyalist filth of the Old Imperium, against the Jedi and a thousand-fold other alien foes. Filth, one and all, undeserving of the mercy of Chronosian power.
The world they now descended upon, their fleets readied and armed and drifting out into the warp from the coiled bosom of the Glyph Worlds, was likewise. Undeserving of mercy, undeserving of pity. It was a traitor world.
As they tore free of the Warp, Chronosian sensors flared into life, detecting the cursed vessels of the Coredians in orbit about the planet, hovering like gnats, their intent clear. Where the Coredians went, so did the taint of their heresy, soaking into worlds, leaving the populace misguided. That wouldn't matter here. Remiel himself commanded them, and he ordered that none be spared.
The Chronosians went to their business.
A vast slew of weapons fire cut across the void in a howling wave, lance batteries pounding at the enemy, cannons hurling immense shells, missiles and flame staining the void with their undertaking. A slow, steady advance brought Chronosian guns to bear on the protecting fleet, pounding at them and towards the world that they coveted.
As they approached, drop pods began to rain, drop-ships conveying the warriors of the Nero Angelus, Remiel's own Legion, into the fray.
Below, wooden houses and huts burned, primitive stone work shattered by the relentless pounding of bolter fire and other, heavier weapons. A native stumbled, his flesh seared and melted by plasma fire as the Chronosians swept through their ranks, bringing death and madness in their wake.
Anton snarled in a bitter litany of pain and pleasure, driving his blade through the corpse of a prone native, slicing and stabbing and screaming as he did. To his left, Turel spun, raking the fleeing natives with storm-bolter fire, cackling in malicious lust.
Remiel bestrode the fray, killing indiscriminately. Women, children, men. Warriors, civilians, priests. It didn't matter, what mattered was the destination that he sought, treading over broken bodies and through swiftly pooling blood, till he had finally arrived.
"Ormhim..." He chuckled softly, almost savoring the meal to come. "You betrayed me." He rose to his full height, glaring down at the cowering man. "You betrayed me, and I warned you that the Masaki's would bring you ruin. They would bring you nothing but suffering and death." He gestured idly. "And so they have."
"You....You were defeated. The Lightning Emperor swore you would not return!"
"And yet I do, don't I? No power on this earth can stop me, no power in this universe can defy the will of the Gods. And so I return to you, to render judgement."
"I-" He hissed, his words and breath cut off as Remiel's armoured fist closed about his throat.
"You will serve me, Ormhim...I have a message for Daniel that you will gladly deliver." He wrenched him from his feet, carrying him by the neck out of the building and into the burning fields. Already his people, many still alive, were burning upon pyres or being impaled upon wickedly curved pikes, their bodies thrust into the air. "Crucify this one...Leave him alive and trigger the distress signal. We're leaving." Remiel turned from his men, dropping Ormhim. He did not stay to watch the old man be stripped and flogged, did not stay to watch him nailed into place and hoist screaming above the fray.
Remiel instead, looked to the future. Through the smoke and fire of blazing village, through the tumult and ruin of the war-wrought heavens, onwards...Towards a confrontation now set in stone. He would not wait to see Masaki alive, nor to see him weep.
Instead, when next he saw him...He would see him die.
By the time I was able to muster a fleet and tear through the void of space for Rubak IV, it was too late. The squadron that protected the planet was torn apart by the Chronosian dogs. The sensors recorded many spots on the planet burning, the villages that I sought to uplift into the stars torn down by the enemy. My heart ached for the village leader I met once and I desperately hoped against hope that he was alive.
I ordered my troops to scour the planet for survivors, to leave no stone unturned. I myself will return to the village and see for myself if the old man has lived. Once I came down, however, that hope was dashed onto the hard ground.
Bodies were blown apart by bolter shells. Houses were disintegrated by plasma guns. And the populace...the populace was crucified. Their bodies were hoisted upon cruel pikes, their stench not fit for the crows to eat. I ordered the marines to take down the bodies and give the villagers a proper burial as I searched for Ormhim.
Then I found him, staked on a long piece of wood, ugly nails driven into his palms and the soles of his feet. I was driven to my knees by the weight of emotion, the crushing feeling of failure. Hatred threatened to consume my heart, the bright-hot fire ready to be used. The elements answered my fury as lightning flashed and wind howled. The clouds swirled overhead as I tore the nails from the dead man's body with but a gesture. I lowered his body to the ground, cradling his body as if he was a child. Tears ran down in torrents from my cheeks as with another gesture, I tore open the earth with a blinding flash of lightning, creating a grave for the man I have come to know. I lowered Ormhim's cold, dead body into the grave and covered it with yet another gesture, telekinetically moving the dirt. I found a good sized boulder to use as a headstone, carving 'The Force Preserve Your Spirit, Friend' into the rock with my lightsaber.
Then, the lightning intensified as I stood and shook my fists in the air, roaring like a dragon: "REMIEEEEL!"