Metal petals crashed down like some industrialized flower bred for war. The first marine to step out from the drop-pod was a vision in black, blue, gold and silver.
His shoulder pad proudly announced his chapter of origin in azure blue and pristine white. His unhelmeted head displayed his noble pedigree with an aquiline nose, close cropped blond hair and eyes the blue of his chapter homeworld’s skies. A pectoral shield on his breastplate declared his personal heraldry: three majestic mountains surmounted by the inverted Omega of the Ultramarines. Around his perfect brow was nestled a laurel wreath of gold and silver.
Inscribed on his armor in multiple places were letters that shouted his name and title to those literate enough to understand High Gothic.
His blue eyes surveyed the square, lingering with distaste at the blood and bits of body littering the cobbles. A speck of ash drifted close to his forehead and then fluttered away, too afraid to cause affront to this noble warrior.
A clunking step saw him stepping from the drop pod. In his massive gauntlet was clutched a colossal heavy bolter. Dripping with gold, the heavy weapon was cut from the same cloth as the man who wielded it. The symbol of the Ultramarines featured heavily on its sides along with Aquilas, mountains and its own glorious pedigree.
Here are some of the names inscribed along its length, shouting out to the Imperium the glory and heroism of its past wielders. Inscribed and etched in blue gold glittered the names: Calth, Tsalgualsa, Macragge, Eskrador, Cage of Iron, Corinth, Black Reach and Tarsis Ultra to name only a few.
The weapon’s name was Courage. The weapon’s name was Honor. It was a weapon of heroes wielded by a hero.
His name was Tremontine Verus, paragon of the Imperium, Scion of Ultramar, and sergeant of Squad Martan of the Ordo Xenos’ Chamber Militant.
To his right emerged a feral and hunched shape. The black armor was marked with scars reaching to the ceramite below. Pelts and furs draped the figure’s backpack while teeth and fangs hung from a multitude of chains. Fetishes and totems of uncertain provenance but proven power dripped from his power armor.
In one hand was clenched an axe etched with runes of vicious potency, glowing an eldritch blue. In the other was an ordinary bolt pistol, freshly stamped from some Mechanicus forge. Further runes ran up and down the black and silver armor. Mounted on the breastplate, in lieu of the traditional golden Aquila, leered a battered wolf’s skull.
The shoulder pad was painted matte grey, the color of storm tossed oceans and storm tossed skies. A snarling wolf’s head stood proudly painted, glaring its ferocity at the universe.
This marine too went unhelmeted. A long brown beard covered the man’s brutish face while yellowed fangs stood out from a mouth hooked in a smile. Brown eyes twinkled with the twinned emotions of amusement and concern.
To the Imperium at large this man’s chapter was known as the Space Wolves. To the marines themselves they were the Vlka Fenryka, shaped and formed by the culture and traditions of their homeworld of Fenris.
His name, spelled in runic script along his pauldron, was Snagr Snagrsson.
To the sergeant’s left emerged a knight from ancient Terra. At least his armor was fashioned as such.
White and black wings, replete with fluttering feathers, graced swept back from the helmet hanging at his side. His armor was marked in black, silver and green. Aquilas and winged swords hung on silver chains and a massive golden eagle spread its magnificent wings across his breastplate. A cloak of sable, threaded through with cloth of silver, draped over the warrior’s back in a luxuriant cascade.
The image of a rampant lion, sword clutched in bestial paws was made in white enamel. Black armor, shaped like the templars of old, covered the warrior’s massive frame.
In one hand was clutched a boltgun, the other carried a sword while at least three other swords were sheathed in various places on his body. The marine obviously harbored a love for the blade.
His movements, despite his great size, as he strode forth from the drop-pod were fluid and graceful betraying his status as a peerless swordsman.
Black hair cascaded in curled ringlets from the pale brow of the warrior’s face. His features were made more beautiful by scars rather than marred. The face however, was made ugly by the look of distaste it habitually possessed. Grey eyes warring with the emotions of hatred, disgust and loathing, roamed over the empty plaza before settling on the colossal building at the square’s edge.
His name was Rafel Markayn, a knightly name for a knightly man.
A wash of steam and mechanical clanking announced the emergence of the fourth marine. Servo arms extended reflexively on hissing hydraulic pistons, unfurling in a manner curiously reminiscent of stretching.
The armor of this marine was hulking and industrial in nature. Smooth planes and harsh edges defined it. Black was the dominant color although it warred with silver, white and red.
The breastplate was marked, not by the winged skull of the Astartes, nor by the golden Aquila of the Imperium, rather, by the cog and skull symbol of the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars.
His pauldron bore a white hand, more of a claw really, marked on a black field. The earth shuddered beneath each ponderous step of this marine, showing the massive weight of this man’s mechanical form.
The marine’s face was defined more by augmetics than organics. Little of his original visage remained, carved away by combat or design. With his chapter it was always hard to tell. The Iron Hands praised the machine more than the man.
His name was Zephek Duen, a name as harsh as any of Medusa’s sons.
The fifth marine’s egress was heralded by whispered prayers to the Master of Mankind. A silver shield emerged from the interior of the drop-pod first, carved to resemble an outstretched eagle’s wing. Written down one edge was the shield’s name: Steadfast. It was a fitting name for the storm shield and a fitting name for the marine as well.
The tip of a sword followed. It glittered in silver, crimson, navy and gold. Inscribed down its length was the weapon’s name: Valediction. The sword was a massive thing, embellished with loops and whorls. The hand that held it was no less massive.
Finally the marine himself emerged, crouched behind sword and shield like a legionnaire of the Romii in the early years of humanity’s stewardship of its birthworld. Ceaseless prayers whispered behind ruddy lips as he beseeched the Emperor to guide him.
His features were craggy; his skin a bronzed tan. A neatly trimmed goatee surrounded his mouth while zealous eyes of green watched everything. This man would be a chaplain of the Crimson Fists some day.
The clenched fist of Rogal Dorn shone in crimson on navy blue on his pauldron. Golden aquilas hung from his armor while prayer beads were looped around his hands.
His name was Ulys Kesare and he was as true a son of Rogal Dorn as ever lived.
The final marine emerged skulking and furtive. His armor possessed scarcely any ornamentation. No chapter heraldry was displayed. The armor, of an ancient mark, was hung with brass chains and written oaths in both Gothic and some other looping script. No colors other than black, silver and brass splashed across its graven surface.
Eyes, dead and black, but glittering with barely suppressed humor stared without blinking at his surroundings. A scar pulled the left side of the marine’s pale face into a permanent smirk making the man’s features reflect the inherent insolence of his personality.
One gauntlet was covered by a device of white broken only by the entwined symbol of the Astartes Apothecarion. Needles and readouts sprouted from the narthecium gauntlet. The other was covered by the baroque grace of an archaic lightning talon.
The hand clenched and unclenched, the talon igniting and de-igniting. Lightning played among the long claw-like talons and jumped between joints in the apothecary’s armor.
He smirked because he always smirked, but there was sadness and insecurity beneath that exterior.
His name was Pax and yes, he knew the irony of that name, for peace was a lie in Mankind’s Empire.
So too was his name.