The last two days had moved at a similar pace to a Martian knollcrawler. It was not a pleasant situation to be in. Grimaldus had only met with Cynaric a handful of times since their agreement in the loading bay; the very idea of sneaking around like this was unfitting and made him sick to his stomach. A single word rang around the inside of his head, rattling his brain and making the back of his eye sockets burn. A single word used by both his Lord and his former pupil to describe the potential situation, despite both agreeing with him.
Heresy, the judgement echoed in his ears.
We are not heretics, he thought, knowing he had to convince himself that before he could convince anyone else. The High Marshal had arranged a conference of sorts between themselves and the Custodian Guard’s Captain-General; luckily the Legio Custodes had been much more open to communication with Space Marine chapters since Guilliman had given the order to strike out across the universe. The meeting was not in person, of course, but rather by encrypted holo-imagery.
What we’re doing could damn us forever…
A handful of Black Templars stood silently, watching the interference of the hologram projector dance about the center of the room. The other side had not matched the connection yet, it was too early to expect them to have, but Grimaldus wanted to be prompt. Helbrecht was stood by his command throne, flanked by a pair of his most trusted Sword Brothers while Cyneric stood off to the side, not wanting to draw too much attention to himself.
“Are you ready?” the grating voice of the High Marhal carried around the room. Cyneric nodded involuntarily.
“Yes,” Grimaldus replied without turning to face him, “It’s now or never isn’t it? If we want to go through with this then what is the use in waiting?”
Helbrecht gave a ratifying inclination of his head, “I suppose,” he followed up.
The group allowed the gentle vibrations of the ship to distract their minds. The hum of distant combustion sequences providing power to the main thrusters reverberated alongside the thrum of servos being operated nearby. The ship could produce a cacophony of beautiful symphonies for those who wanted to listen.
The crescendo of the melody was contemptuously interrupted as the hololith flickered to life. Grimaldus shook away his daze.
Three tall warriors stood on the other end, the resplendent intricacies and polished gold of their armor ruined by the harsh static and green hue of the projection. Nevertheless, they still looked astoundingly regal and vehemently imposing.
“Lords,” Helbrecht gave a slight nod to the skirting warriors, then clasped his fist across his chest for the pivotal figure “Captain-General”.
“Lord Helbrecht,” the Captain-General replied, “your summons has been answered, do not tarry”
“Of course,” he gestured to his High Chaplain, “Merek?”
“My Lords, I am Merek Grimaldus, High Chaplain of the Black Templars”
The Custodes nodded in almost perfect unison before the Captain-General spoke,
“Master Grimaldus, your reputation precedes you,”
“Thank you, then I hope your humble respect will add weight and seriousness to my plea,” Grimaldus inhaled deeply, not caring how obvious it was, It’s now or never, he quickly repeated in his head,
It’s now or never.
“Roboute Guilliman is not fit to rule,” he expected outrage at this initial, overbearing statement, but the majestic warriors stood firm, “we do not need astropaths or fortune-telling hags to predict our Chapter’s demise at the hands of Robute for our religious belief in the Emperor”.
The trio of Custodes stood so statuesque that Grimaldus thought the holo-feed had stalled.
“Continue,” the Captain-General beckoned.
“He meets with the Emperor only to emerge from the Golden Palace and replace several High Lords? He claims it was the Emperor’s Will! In any other situation this would be called a subversive takeover, filling the ruling council with people he trusts.”
“It is true,” the Captain-General began, gesturing to the warrior on his left, “Aquila Commander Varanor had his own reservations, but could not prohibit a Son of the Emperor from seeing his own father…”
“And, contrary to his own Codex, he now commands enough warriors to rival the legions of ancient days!” Grimaldus was beginning to lose his composure, “he could hold half the Imperium to ransom and we could do nothing about it – he commands unwavering loyalty not only from his half-breeds, but from every Ultramarine successor chapter… this situation is only furthered by the rift cutting off the ‘dark imperium’, as he named it.”
“We have much to consider,” one of the Custodes replied, Grimaldus missed which, “give us time.”
The feed lingered for a moment before fizzing to black.
“That’s… not good?” Cynaric immediately jumped in.
Gimaldus slowly and purposefully turned to face his friend,
“Did you expect an answer straight away?”
“No, but I didn’t expect them to excuse themselves and cut the feed, that was very odd behavior, even for them.”
Considering everything the pair turned to Helbrecht, looking for affirmation. Looking for inspiration. Looking for anything.
“We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?” he eventually grunted, “you’ve sealed our fate one way or another.”
The venerable High Marshal sat in his throne, taking his forehead in the palm of his heavily armored hand before uttering a disheartening order.
“Dismissed. All of you.”
Thanks for reading!