To call the atmosphere on the Silver Masque bleak would have been an understatement. The cruiser had been built to carry a full company of Astartes, yet the marines on the ship only numbered twenty six. To one viewing them from the outside, they would have seemed a rag tag bunch.
Within the launch bay of the ship was a veritable rainbow of color. Greens of the Nemesis Chapter, the blue and bone white of the Novamarines, and the yellow of the Libators. These and five other chapters were present on the Silver Masque.
But despite bearing the heraldry of different chapters, these men were not strangers to one another. In truth, they considered themselves truer brothers to each other than they did those from their respective chapters. For in truth, they had all once been their own chapter.
Upon the Silver Masque stood the last marines of the Screaming Falcons Chapters. Where they would usually bear the markings of their squads, the marines had painted over with their old heraldry, the black falcon skull. Amongst the group, this was the one visible sign of unity.
Sergeant Kurillian couldn’t help but look around the group with a tinge of melancholy. When the group had last all been together, they had numbered thirty eight. His heart ached for his brothers who had lost their lives before they could fulfill their vow.
He brushed his feelings aside for the moment, and addressed his fellow marines.
‘Within the next hour we will be within the boarding range of our target. For nearly half a century we have waited for this chance. Waited to avenge our fallen comrades, our world, and our stained honor.’
Kurillian paused a moment. The assembled marines said nothing, but he could feel their resolve radiating off of them like fires of a new-born star.
‘Before us lies the xenos scum who took these from us. The foul Archon now retreats from Imperial forces, and in her haste she has forgotten her true enemy. Together we shall put an end to her abominable existence, not leaving even a single atom behind!’
A roar of agreement followed Kurillian’s proclamation. He gave one last nod to his brothers before ordering them to prepare themselves. As he stepped away from the crowd, he took a moment to look down at his helmet.
The grey and red marked him as a member of the Imperious Reavers. To Kurillian, it felt as though the entirety of his adopted chapter was staring back at him accusingly through the helmet’s visor.
When their world had been overrun by the Dark Eldar, the Screaming Falcons had been devastated beyond repair. Disbanded, the remaining marines were sent to fill missing roles in their brother chapters. As sons of Guilliman, they had far more options than most.
In the nearly half a century that had passed since then, Kurillian had truly felt he could call the marines of his new chapter his brothers in battle. These had been men he had fought with for almost as long as he had the ones standing beside him now.
But as much as it pained him, and he thought, pained all the marines on the Silver Masque, he had to leave them. It had been on this very ship, as they were forced to retreat from the forces of the Kabal, that they had all promised to take vengeance when the opportunity presented itself.
While he knew it was wrong, part of Kurillian felt proud the remains of his chapter had fulfilled this vow. Each brother had resolved to do their part, even if it meant being labeled as rogues for their decision.
Regardless of whether or not the Astartes succeeded in their vengeance, there would be no going back for them. In order to make good on said vengeance, they had abandoned their duties to their new homes. In his heart, Kurillian knew this made them little better than traitors.
An armored hand landing on his shoulder broke Kurillian out of his thoughts. He turned around to see a marine in the blue of the Ultramarines. Once he was fully turned, the marine spoke.
‘It’s good to see you managed to improve on your oration skills Sergeant,’ said the marine. ‘When we last met, I could hardly believe you managed to get everyone to agree to this promise.’
At first Kurillian wasn’t sure who the marine was, already having donned his helmet. But as he spoke, Kurillian recognized him as Relith, formerly the captain of the chapter’s sixth company. Kurillian gave his former superior a dry smile before responding.
‘Almost as surprising as you letting me lead this mission,’ said Kurillian. ‘If I’m to be truly honest, I still feel as though you would be the best man to do it Captain.’
‘Perhaps back when you were still a new battle-brother fresh from the scouting company I would agree,’ said Relith. ‘But you were already far beyond that when we were all shipped off, and since then you have proven yourself further.’
‘I wonder about that,’ said Kurillian. ‘To my own shame, there is still a part of me that has doubts about my qualifications.’
Relith looked over to the rest of the marines, who were getting ready to load up into the two boarding ships on deck.
‘Perhaps that’s what we need right now. One who thinks themselves infallible can certainly march forward with confidence, but they are no less likely to walk into disaster than those with doubts. The only difference is, the former.’
With this, the captain gave a nod to Kurillian, before walking off to his own ship. Kurillian watched him for a moment, before putting his helmet on and going to his own seat. Hopefully, he thought, what awaited them was their retribution, and not disaster.