Imperium rising Chapter 5
(Malachi five, Great Crusade)
The Emperor stood with his loyal sons Horus, Leman Russ and Lion El Johnson, as they assaulted the last bastion of resistance on this world. The crusade to reclaim the galaxy had gone well and so far he had recovered many of his lost sons. He placed them at the heads of their perspective legions and soon he would have to return to Earth and begin the next crucial step of his plans.
He had great faith is Horus and the others to finish the crusade without him, but he knew in his heart that it was a risk as well, but the quicker he started on his next project the better for all mankind.
A blast of laser cannon fire almost hit their position and he shook his head, wondering why the humans within the last bastion resisted his attempts to bring them into the Imperium. Sometimes he wondered just what the dark times had truly done to the people cut off from Earth.
He looked to Leman and Johnson and gave them the order to press their attacks on the flanks, before turning to Horus and ordering him to prepare his own legion to join him and his Adeptus Custodes bodyguards in the frontal assault. He watched as they nodded and left to carry out his orders.
He turned and looked around. Just barely he parried an assassin's blade, as it came at his head. How the assassin had gotten so close to him without being sensed was a mystery, but he had to give the man credit. Their swords clashed, as his bodyguard rushed to help, but he didn't need it as he raised his sword and inbeded it into the man's exposed back, as he avoided the assassin's strike. However instead of dying instantly the body began to shake and jerk, before exploding in a shower of gore as a demon came into being. Suddenly it became clear why the city was resisting. They had made a pact with the chaos gods.
He stepped back and prepared himself for combat, as Horus quickly returned to help, along with his closest captains. The demon was large, but not one of the greater demons at least. He struck at the same time as the others, but was swept back by the demon's staff. He recovered and lashed out with a Psycic blast, whilst Horus hacked at the creature along with the others. The demon reached out and picked up two of his bodyguards and quickly bit their heads off, dropping their bodies on Horus and one of his captains.
A claw swipe cut one of Horus's guards in two, as more Space Marines from the Lunar Wolves arrived and poured bolter fire into the creature. He himself lashed out again with his powers, scoring a direct hit as the demon fell to the ground, allowing him, Horus and his bodyguards to inbed their swords and Guardian Spears into it and to finish it off.
"Send word to Russ and Johnson. The city has made a pact with the chaos gods and prepare to face more demons," the Emperor ordered, turning back to face the city. "We attack now before they call on more demonic aid. Tell the artillery to keep fireing at the walls. Order the Princep of Legio Metallica to help with their Titans," he added, before he marched out of the camp and headed for the front lines of the combined force of Lunar Wolves and Imperial Guard units waiting to attack. Horus soon joined him.
"My brothers have been warned and stated their flanking assault has already drawn off the worse of the defenders fire. We are clear to assault the main gate," Horus reported grimly.
The assault began with a single command, as the artillery and Imperial Titans rained down fire on the walls, killing many defenders and demons as they went. The doors soon opened, as they finally succumbed to the destructive hailstorm.
Once inside the evidence of the pact between the city inhabitants and the chaos gods became all the more evident, as screaming hordes of bloodletters charged at them, backed up by nurglings and pink horrors, but it was the bloodthirster at its center, that led them drew the Emperor's attention and he quickly engaged it in battle.
The large axe and whip of the bloodthirster crackled with the essence of the warp as it attacked him, but he brought his full powers to the fore and struck with everything he had, quickly burning a hole through the things chest, before throwing his sword straight into its brain as it roared in pain and agony. He retrived his sword and went to help Horus, who was now fighting back to back with Abaddon, his closest captain.
The battle continued for another three hours, before Johnson and Russ finally broke through the flanks and enveloped the remaining soldiers, whilst cutting down the demons. The blood soaked city was full of corpses of people, who had been sacrificed to the chaos gods and it made him sick and angry. Clearly not everyone in this city had wanted to make the pact and had paid dearly for it. He looked down into the eyes of a woman, no more than twenty years of age and saw the terror that was fixed on her face. He gave a silent prayer for her soul before moving on.
Xander awoke covered in sweat and he felt his heart beating a mile a minute, as he took deep breathes he recovered from what, to him, was a very real dream. It had felt like he himself had been there, directing the battle and fighting such horrid monsters.
He had seen demons before, but none like the bloodthirster. It truly terrified him just to think of coming upon one like it. He got up and headed for his bathroom and splashed water on his face before staring at his reflection.
‘What was that?" he asked the Emperor, as he could do now with ease.
‘A memory of a long ago time,' the Emperor's voice came back clear and he could detect the bitterness in his tone. ‘That was a happier time, when my sons were all united and still with me, before half of them were corrupted and turned against me. The war that followed, made the crusade look like a small battle,' he added darkly.
‘How can you call that a happier time, considering what happened to those people?' Xander questioned him, as he returned to his room making sure not to make any noise or else he would awake his damn father.
‘Because the crusade, had it not been stopped, would have united the humans in the galaxy as one and stopped the chaos powers in their tracks. Yes many lives were lost, but had we succeeded it would have been worth the sacrifice,' the Emperor responded. ‘It was the only thing we could do to stop them. They are a plague, but the fall of Horus put an end to all our hopes,' he added and the voice of the Emperor became even darker.
‘I know a lot about your history from the many books and background information given, but just how bad was your world really?' Xander inquired.
‘Having seen your memories of my world in what is laughably called a game here, I would say vastly different. The horrors we saw on the crusade were much worse,' the Emperor responded bitterly, not liking the fact that his whole life was nothing but a game to a whole world. ‘We saw hundreds of what you would call war crimes in a time of madness. We lost many comrades and the Heresy multiplied that loss all the more,' he continued. ‘Now we are just surviving and fighting an endless defensive war, until my body can be healed the crusade will never rise again,' he finished before going silent.
Xander finally lay back in his bed and shivered, wondering just what other horrors the Emperor had seen and hoping his dreams would not always be overwhelmed by his memories. It took a while, but finally he managed to fall asleep again.
Jenny stared at the wall, still going over everything that had happened in the last few hours. It was a lot to take in, but no more than the longing she felt from Sonja to set out and locate her husband Lucian. She had began to view Sonja's memories of what had transpired and she was sickened by what Victor, her own father, had done. She did not understand why he was so horrified by the idea of a blending between vampire and Lycan bloodlines.
She had to sort out what she was feeling and what she would do about her growing attraction to Giles. This changed everything for her, no more so than she had been told by Metatron to tell the group why she had come to Sunnydale in the first place, which meant there would be problems. Maybe it was best if she did not get to close to Giles, as his loyalty to Buffy would also come before her.
Lucian was loyal only to Sonja and his fellow Lycans and as the host for his wife's spirit did that not make her responsible in staying loyal to him? Sonja was sure he had for her in the centuries since her death. She closed her eyes and just sank back into the memories of her new friend and hoped the answers would come before the sun rose the next day.
Amy awoke shaking, as she witnessed Prue's death at the hands of the demon hitman Shacks. She knew Prue had been murdered, but seeing it as if you were actually there was disquieting to say the least.
She knew this night would have serious repercussions, but hopefully nightmares would not be one of them. What was worse was the sense of loss she kept feeling from Prue. She hated been cut off from her sisters and was trying to work out how to contact them and let them know that she was back, at least in a way. She was scared of being rejected, even with Leo vouching for her.
She could also feel Prue was trying to come to terms with the idea of having a half sister, she never knew existed, taking her place as the third Charmed one. Prue knew her life would not be like it was before, as for one the body she was in was not her own and two she had been told by the Voice of God that her path was now different to that of her sisters and yet no less dangerous.
Amy herself knew her life would never be the same. She had known the truth about Sunnydale since the incident with her mother, but had not stepped up to help Buffy as
Xander and the others had, but now she knew there was no longer a choice, she had to help. She felt Prue's dedication to saving innocents and she could not, would not ignore the dangers any longer. She would fight and help as many as she could. This seemed to settle Prue down somewhat and so she rolled over and soon fell back asleep, wondering how the morning would turn out.
Max paced his bedroom, being as quite as he could which strangely enough was very easy to do now. He felt anxious and very unsure and he knew it came from Paul what he was feeling. Paul did not like that he was cut off from home and from his loved ones especially Chani. He missed her and it felt like a raw wound in his chest that would not leave him.
Trying to sleep at the moment was useless and so he paced and tried to get Paul to calm down, but nothing he said or did was working. He still found it hard to believe what had happened tonight and the changes it had invoked inside of him. He now knew the horrifying truth about his home town and it chilled him to the bone, even worse was the knowledge of why this had happened to him had come to pass. He did not know if he could take it, but he would try. He was worried about Paul's response to all of this and he just hoped things would work out for the spirit within him.
The Mayor leaned back in his chair, reading a few reports on how the town was running when a knock came and he quickly put the report down and gave permission for whoever it was to enter. He was not to surprised to find Alan Finch, his deputy, enter, however he was surprised to find a demon following him in.
Clearly something had happened or else the demon would not dare to come here. He noted the rune mark carved into the demons head and saw that he came from one of the larger clans of demons, he had enticed to Sunnydale so the question became where the clan chief was.
"Is there a problem?" he inquired. He hoped not as he had only another year to go before his ascension could take place and being this close he did not need problems.
"Our lord is dead, killed by a new threat he sensed in the area, coming from four individuals. Chaos magic caused them to change and we set out to wipe them out, but we failed. Many of our brethren are dead and we now wait for a new leader to rise, but we knew you would want to know of the threat," the demon responded.
"Four people changed by chaos magic?" The Mayor asked, as he leaned forward and folded his hands together. "Alan did something accrue tonight?" he inquired of his aid.
"Yes sir. It seems a chaos mage named Ethan Rayne came into town and transformed everyone who bought a costume from his shop into those costumes. The reports I have gotten back, state that everyone changed as far as we know," Alan replied.
"Clearly that may not be the case, so have some of our people look for any strangeness or change of character from anyone involved. Especially if any of the Slayer's group were involved," the Mayor ordered. "They are only a minor threat as far as I am concerned, but that does not mean they could not become a bigger one in the future. Magic is one sure way of that happening, so look into it," he added.
"Yes sir. I shall send the word out and hopefully have a report back by tomorrow night," Alan said, before he led the demon back out of the office, once he had the Mayor's permission.
The Mayor leaned back in his chair and rubbed his forehead, as he pondered the possibilities that could arise from this situation. If he was honest with himself, he did not like what his mind came up with, the possibility of the Slayer and her group being a major problem, so close to his ascension was not a good thing.
If it turned out that this magic had affected them, then he would have to take action, but careful action at that. They did not know he was a threat and he needed it to stay that way and so he leaned forward again and began to work out some plans for the future, just in case his worst fears came true.
Metatron ignored the complaints from the powers and the elders, as he watched events begin to unfold down on Earth. Clearly things were going to pick up if the demonic Mayor got involved sooner than anticipated, but he thought God had factored that into her plan and he was sure, that together the group could deal with whatever he sent against them, as long as they stuck together. However he was worried by what he saw of Paul and Max. Unlike the other three possessing spirit, he was finding being cut off from his world and loved ones harder then he could deal with.
He felt this could become a problem even God might not have truly taken into account, as she had been known to make mistakes before. He would have to discuss this with her he thought, before he stood up and headed out, leaving the still complaining powers and elders to watch his back, as he left them behind.
He nodded to Gabriel and Michael, as he passed them. They seemed a lot happier now that he had given some warning to Liam about his use of the title angel. He did not want to have to listen to another of Gabriel's rants about the monkey corpse's disrespect to God and them.
Even with his redemption it seemed Gabriel could not help himself in calling humans monkeys, just for the fun of it. Michael seemed to take it in stride, but to him it was an annoyance.
(Sunnydale High School, next day)
The group met up as soon as the first couple of classes had finished. The group now included Aura, Amy and Max. Aura's insistence to help was a surprise, but a welcome one, as any help was welcome. Silence rained for a few minutes, before Giles decided to break it. He knew they had a lot to talk and discuss about, but the sooner they started the better he thought.
"I am sure last night was tiring especially for most of you, but we do have a lot to go through, so I suggest we start with you Jenny. Just what is it Metatron suggested you should tell us and why he called you Janna," he stated, looking to his fellow, but silent, teacher.
"My actual name is Janna Kalderash of the same tribe that Angelus attacked a hundred years ago," Jenny answered, after a bit of prodding from Sonja.
Buffy looked up from the book she had been reading and began to pay close attention to what was been said. She missed the curious looks Xander and Willow shot her, as they noticed her interested look at whatever it was she was reading. They were also still getting used to seeing their friend with black hair, instead of the dyed blond she usually had. It seemed to them that she looked older and more mature with her natural look.
"I was sent here to ensure the curse held, although why it is necessary was unclear to me until Metatron mentioned how unstable it was, which tells me the curse can be broken and considering also the warning he gave Buffy last night, she might be the key to that," Jenny continued, hoping this revelation would not cause an argument.
"But you don't know that for sure do you?" Buffy asked, but everyone could tell by the tone of her voice, that she was sure that was the truth of the matter, thanks to Metatron's warnings.
"I think it is a good guess Buffy and to be honest, the idea of having a relationship with a demonic vampire is kind of sick, if you truly think about it. More so when put into context as Metatron did," Jenny responded, as gently as she could. "In the end do you really want to take the risk of unleashing Angelus, considering he would know everything Angel knows about us, as well as having access to some of your homes?" She inquired seriously.
Buffy stared at each of her friends and even the new comers, as she considered this. She knew the fact that the possibility of her being the key to breaking the curse was high. She knew she could not endanger everyone, especially her mom and so she would have to separate herself from Angel and push away any romantic feelings she had begun to develop as well. The warning from Metatron was still ringing in her ears and she could not ignore it, so she finally made her choice and just hoped Angel would understand.
"No I don't want to take that risk. I'll keep away from him, except for patrols and slaying business," she finally responded, much to the surprise of most of them.
"I know it does not seem fair Buffy, but in the long run that might be the wisest choice you'll ever make at this point in time," Giles said, feeling a little bit of pride in Buffy truly thinking it through, before making her choice instead of the immediate rejection he had expected.
"I point out that this is what Metatron said about the powers laying a trap for Angel. It is almost as if they wanted his soul curse to be broken, by getting close to Buffy," Cordelia spoke up, as she really did not like how this had sounded last night. "Why would they wish something like that on us?" she asked, as everyone looked thoughtful.
"I think Leo may have some clue," Prue put in, before calling her whitelighter and was pleased to see him appear almost immediately. "Hey Leo, I take it you've been made aware of what's happened right?" she asked, as he joined them at the table.
"I have and to be honest Prue I am amazed God has intervened, but then she has that right. The powers and elders are not happy I can tell you that, but they can't do anything about it and they cannot interfere with you at all," Leo replied. "I will also say Prue that it is great to have you back. At least in some shape or form, as you've been greatly missed," he added with a warming smile.
"Thanks Leo, it is good to be alive somewhat. Why do the powers have such dire plans for us?" Prue replied, before asking the question.
"From what I've heard from some of my fellow whitelighters and a few archangels, the powers think they need to keep you low and emotionally scared," Leo responded grimly. "I can't say for sure if it is true, but it might explain God's actions," he added.
The group looked between themselves uneasy with this response and not liking it one bit. It spoke of a danger that none of them were truly ready to face. The Emperor in the back of Xander's mind began to calculate plans to protect his new found allies, as best as he could. He also began to see why God had chosen him and the others for whatever her final goal was. He was still getting used the change in his powers, but he could already detect various threats. He would have to think long and hard before discussing this with the others.
"Prue, I've been told you can alert your sisters to your existence, as long as you are careful and I agree. The fight against the Source is really picking up right now," Leo spoke up again. "You will have to plan this carefully, because it's going to be a lot to take in for them to see you in someone else's body. It will be especially hard for Piper, as the loss is still very raw for her," he added.
"I know Leo and I'll work on it, so for now let them keep thinking that I am dead," Prue said, through it pained her to say it. "I don't want to distract them, when they are up against the Source itself," she added.
"Who is the Source?" Aura inquired, not recognizing the name from anything she had learned last night.
"The Source runs the underworld and controls most demons and evil beings, but not all as in reality he is but one of the main control points for the darkness on Earth," Leo informed them all. "The Charmed ones, which Prue belonged to are destined to fight and hopefully destroy it permanently at some point in time," he continued.
"So that explains why we have to be careful when contacting Prue's sisters. What about you Sonja, why were you warned about contacting Lucian?" Xander inquired, taking all of this in, as he began to see the vastly bigger picture of the fight.
"Lucian is my husband and leader of the Lycans, which is another term for werewolf," Sonja replied. "He is at war with Victor, my father, and his army of my type of vampires. He has been, since Victor ordered me killed along with my unborn child," she explained, having watched her lover from her place in the afterlife, as much as she could and she had witnessed what had happened since her death.
"Why would he order your death?" Willow asked, horrified at the very idea.
"My union with Lucian was forbidden and for some reason my father feared a blending of the bloodlines, for which I am still at a loss to explain. My death was the only way it could end, once he knew about the baby," Sonja responded bitterly.
"Lucian has raged war on them, hoping to extract revenge since that time. If I reveal myself to him, I also take the risk of Victor learning of my return and about you, which may make you targets. Hence the warning," she stated. "Whilst I do plan to reveal myself to Lucian, I will not do so recklessly. I will wait until I have found a way that does not expose us all to Victor," she finished.
Before anyone else could say anything the bell went, signaling the start of the next lesson and so the group broke up and headed out, whilst Leo orbed out as he heard Phoebe calling for him. Giles remained behind, as he went over everything he had learned and he wondered just how they would deal with it all.
Outside the school a motor bike pulled up and the driver, who wore a leather jacket and black jeans, looked over the place with a critical eye, he had developed over the years since learning the truth of the world. He did not wear a helmet and so the short blond hair could be seen, as well as his brown eyes. He wondered where his friend and former lover was in this place, before getting off his bike and heading inside.