Hand of Corruption
I am Alpharius.
Included in Arn’s biography is a two conversations with his cultist slave, Gannus, a young boy no older than eleven years old at the time of the first conversation. The first is telling of the bond that Arn hopes to develop between them. The second conversation takes place several years later, when the boy is sixteen, and explains how Arn will wind up captured aboard the Black Ship.
Finally, the third section is a brief summary of Arn’s greatest regret. This is his greatest disgrace.
I am he. I am Alpharius.
But to you, blessed Child of Chaos, I am called Arn Raen. I bestow to you my name…this great secret. One that you will die protecting should the Dark Gods require it.
I know my past. I have studied the achievements of my human life with such devotion that I nearly remember them. It is important to see all things. To consider all possibilities. To realize that openness of mind requires knowing all that came before… that we may then see what shall come to follow. And so with discipline, I have studied. And what will that discipline bring?
“Victory, my Lord. Which brings Immortality.”
And immortality, child?
“Immortality is the Gift of Chaos, Lord Arn.”
You learn well. Your mind will absorb the great givings of Chaos as an Astartes one day. So I shall tell you, young Gannus… I shall tell you of my past. Of my childhood, and my great doings.
I will tell you of my rebirth and regrets. I will tell you of my hopes.
My first birth granted me the name Brearne. I was lost quite young, and found by this great Legion on Carcharius in early M41, the day of our victory over the now lost Crimson Consuls. An Alpha Legionnaire as old as the Heresy itself, known to me as Kraet Zahn, carried me under one arm, slaying countless Imperial guardsmen and their fool Marine lackeys… tearing through them with a demonic fury that only the Dark Gods themselves could grant. He brought me to safety and had the Legion’s heretic nurses bring me to good health. He checked in regularly on my progress in academics, battle and reconnaissance training. He ensured I was taught the ways of the Alpha Legion. He made me realize my worth. Made me realize that I could do great and astonishing evils in the name of Chaos and ensure our Victory.
I am named in reminiscence of the unrelenting suffering I caused to the Imperium and its mindless followers in my human life. I am named for my past success. I am named such so I may impart wisdom, that no soul… when touched by Chaos… is too weak to reap triumph. You must know, Gannus that you have worth. Worth to this Legion and to the Dark Gods. For we will always overcome. The Legion will not fall, and the Hydra shall never be headless.
Who do you serve, child?
”Alpharius, my Lord.”
And who is Alpharius?
“You are, my Lord.”
Do you know the glory in destroying a planet, child? What about bringing extinction upon an entire race? Glory in knowing that you have wrought destruction that will bring our ultimate justice and magnificence to fruition? I was granted opportunities that any would die for. And I will grant you the same. I will teach you to fool them all. I will show you how to hide…right in front of their eyes. And when you are as grown as I, you will be a master of shadows.
In two short days, I will leave you to your studies, that I may take to studies of my own. There is an Inquisitor about, and he wishes to bring home a bounty. And sometimes we must allow our enemies to believe they have earned their prize before we may sow our seeds. What do we say of our enemies?
”They will have never seen us coming, my Lord.”
In M41, the Alpha Legion called for an uprising, under Daemon Prince Kernax Voldorius, on the Ice World of Zoran. Captain Metraen of the Blood Angels led two Companies to quell the Legion’s plans. It is not long before the Blood Angels realize that the base of operations is held within a long abandoned Imperator Titan. With active shields and weaponry, the Alpha Marines used the Titan to lay waste to many an Angel, leaving Metraen fearing need for Exterminatus on Zoran.
Arn Raen, now an Astartes, fought alongside his Alpha Legion brethren as reinforcements arrive to aid the Blood Angel Companies. Legionnaires fell in droves beneath the might of the White Scars. Arn stood between his own Captain, Savior and Mentor Kraet Zahn and their escape as their last brother fell. A horde of White Scars, littered with the red armor of the remaining Blood Angels surrounded them. They stood, sword and bolter raised against the enemies.
Arn could hear his Brother’s smile, his hunger for blood and death. “You know what must be done, Child.”
“The Hydra is strong, Alpharius. Our demise does not mean death to the Legion. I will fight beside you.”
“Do not tell me my progeny has taken the fool’s path. Do me an honor and return, alive with our findings. Your duty is undone. Your glory is incomplete. You will be immortal. Do not spit in the face of Chaos’ gift. GO! Do not tell me I carried a dying boy out of hell so that he would falter on the day I offered to save him once more.”
“Come with me, Brother.” Arn took two steps back, his eyes locked to Kraet’s beneath their visors.
A chuckle reached Arn’s ears through their vox-link. “Oh, dear boy. That would be too easy.”
The link cut to static and Arn watched as his Captain was impaled upon the Relic blade of a White Scar.
Horror struck him, and sheer courage… or was it cowardice?… awoke his nerves as he turned to run. A precious artifact hidden in the folds of his raiments.
This moment. This is the moment that he relives, in question. He lives, questioning his own fiber, his own worth. Questioning what it truly was that made him run.
He stood, hulking above the boy facing away from him, pressing one enormous finger into the space between two hydra heads tattooed on his shoulder blades, nearly knocking the boy off his feet.
“You, Arn Raen, are chosen.” His voice boomed from altered lungs.
“Chosen to carry his visage.
Chosen to stand taller.
Chosen to uphold his facade.
Chosen to live forever, as one of many heads to the same beast.
Chosen to keep his secret, remembering it, yet forgetting.”
The man begins to pace, as another hulking Astartes in robes appears. Lowering his hood, he looks down upon the man, a third eye opening upon his throat.
“And to forget,” continues the first Astartes, “you must first know. Therefore, I must tell you one more story.”
“But all the stories you told me were lies.” The boy speaks up, a smirk grazing his cheeks.
A guttural chuckle echos off the walls.
“Good boy. Now listen. ‘The God-Emperor of man,’ they call him. And I, Alpharius, would claim to know him. Would claim to have brought folly upon he and his loyal sons in the hour of Horus’ betrayal.
Was ‘He’ as noble as his cult worshipers say?
Is he so consummate, decrepit as he is, upon his Golden Throne?"
The robed hulk continues to stare and his armored compatriot continues to lecture.
“I, Kraet Zahn, could not honestly claim to know. But what I can claim, truthfully and without refrain is that it matters not his transcendence, nor his honor.
What matters is the ascendancy of Chaos. May its fire burn white hot, kindled by pestilence, change, blood, and passion. Let none see it coming. The day that Chaos’ final ember blinks out. For the more sweltering the fire, the more fleetly its tinder burns."
He stops before the boy, drawing his gaze by the aura of his countenance alone.
“And if you choose to remember only one thing about that story, it will be?”
“That it is a lie. Though it might be good to tell again someday.” The glimmer of a smile returns to the boys lips.
Kraet steps forward, taking the boys face and turning it from side to side.
“Excellence. I chose well. I see Alpharius within you, even now. Go now, Arn, and become he and only he.”
Kraet steps back as the robed man steps forward, taking Arn by the neck and leading him to the next chamber.