Logan Grimnar stood at the centre of the Strategium on the Ironfist, hands clasped behind his back. The smooth, polished walls of the circular room were devoid of datascreens. Instead, tapestries hung at regular intervals. The weaves were faded but nonetheless vivid in their depiction of this ship’s storied history. Grimnar sneered. The portrayed triumphs were unknown to him, mere blips in the far grander tapestry of the Imperium’s work among the stars. Grimnar’s gaze slid down to the floor and his lips curled into a snarl. The symbol of the Imperial Guard was engraved on the tiles, the work inlaid with shimmering gems that alternated between blue and red depending on the play of the ambient lighting. The garish engraving and the display of tapestries in the Strategium smacked of pride and was the sole doing of the ship’s current commander, who was now stamping up and down the raised platforms of the bridge rather than standing behind Grimnar in the Strategium.
Let him stomp, thought Grimnar. There is no room for pride in what is next to come.
The Light Cruiser Ironfist had been part of a fleet tasked with destroying greenskins. Grimnar and his Wolves had joined the fleet less than a week ago, responding to calls of assistance. The Imperial Guard sent to do the job were unprepared for the sheer number of Orks and thus it had fallen once again to the Vlka Fenryka to finish what others could not.
Finish it we did, thought Grimnar. And yet I had no chance to congratulate my warriors.
On the eve of their victory, Grimnar had received summons from the High Lords of Terra. In his private chambers on the Strike Cruiser Stormpeak, Grimnar took the knee, bowed his head and received the following message: The situation on Adrilles had grown severe. He– Logan Grimnar– had underestimated the delicacy of the situation and had not foreseen other interested parties being drawn to the calamity brewing. As a result, Arjac Rockfist was not prepared for what he had found on the planet and was incapable of bringing the situation to a close in a manner befitting the Will of the Emperor, as communicated to and through the High Lords of Terra.
Grimnar had remained silent throughout the audience. He had glanced upward occasionally to view the flickering forms of the High Lords. The message had been clear even if the images and spoken words had sometimes only been half-formed from distortion.
“It shall be done.” That is what Grimnar had said when the High Lords of Terra had eventually fallen silent. There had been much more Grimnar could have said, but he held his tongue. He had done so not because he was acquiescent. Indeed, it was in his nature to tug ferociously at the bonds of faith and honour that bound him to the Emperor. No, he had played the role of scolded dog because it was clear to him that the High Lords did not understand the situation on Adrilles. They had put too much emphasis on the Jager Corps. The machinations of the Jagers had created the crucible on Adrilles, but it was what bubbled to the surface that was the greater threat to the Imperium.
But, the High Lords had spoken briefly of Chaos as if the demonic forces were a minor irritant. So many words spoken about the Jager Corps and the blasphemy of their psychic experimentation. The name Thousand Suns had been invoked and it had taken much of Grimnar’s strength to not laugh at the outlandish comparison.
Ruldolf was no Magnus.
Most telling, thought Grimnar, was that at no time during the one-sided audience with the High Lords had any of their esteemed number acknowledged their previous dismissal of Arjac Rockfist’s concerns regarding the Jager Corps when Grimnar had brought the matter before them several years ago. That audience– far shorter than the most recent– had resulted in Grimnar sending Arjac Rockfist on a solitary hunt. The hunt had been successful but the kill had not yet occurred because the quarry had attracted many more predators to Adrilles.
One other thing Grimnar had been able to successfully hide from the High Lords of Terra was his anger at not knowing of the declining situation on Adrilles before he had bowed his head in his private chambers to answer the summons. The last communication he had received from Arjac Rockfist was that he was taking the Claw of Russ, the Hammerfall, the Ire of Grimnar and several support ships to Adrilles where he felt certain the Jagers had found a suitable locale for their experiments. To be blind-sided with information about Chaos and feuding Necrons had shaken Grimnar. Fortunately, his bowed head had hidden his reflexive scowl and his power armour had masked his body’s sudden tautness.
“It shall be done.” It was as strong as any oath he had taken before going into battle.
When the flickering forms of the High Lords of Terra had dissipated like dying embers drifting into night, Grimnar stormed the passageways leading to the bridge. He shouted orders at any in sight, firm in the knowledge the contents of the messages would be swiftly carried to the intended ears. Within a few hours, Logan Grimnar and several hundred of his best were preparing to enter the Warp in the belly of the Ironfist. Most of his Vlka Fenryka would remain with the Imperial Guard to continue the fight against the greenskins in the sector. His own strike cruiser he left behind. The High Lords wanted results but did not want to commit a mighty host of The Fang to the cause. They did not want ripples extending through the Imperium.
Not that there would be any subtlety in Grimnar’s handling of the situation on Adrilles, but he could understand the High Lords’ concerns. Word of the Jagers psychic machinations and the confluence of powerful, destructive forces could unsettle great swaths of the galactic region. It could– and, in Grimnar’s opinion, most likely still would– draw more powers to the center of the mounting storm. And yet, somehow, the High Lords wanted a swift and contained resolution.
The whole of Grimnar’s trip in the Warp was occupied with speculation about the tactical truth of Adrilles and the devising of strategies to deal with the possibilities. And yet his mind also found time to ruminate on a haunting thought: Arjac Rockfist had not contacted Grimnar about Adrilles and he would not have contacted the High Lords of Terra directly. It was an impossibility. So, how was it that the High Lords of Terra had received the news they had imparted to Grimnar?
The answer to that question came to Grimnar when he learned there were shadows following the Ironfist through the Warp. Ships of the Cult Mechanicus. Grimnar could not stifle the growl that rose in his throat nor hide the scowl that furrowed his brow. Both brought all activity on the bridge to a halt.
For the remainder of the journey a new question had plagued him. How long had the Cult Mechanicus been involved?
That question had not yet been answered.
The door to the Strategium opened. Arjac Rockfist stepped in.
“We have much to discuss,” said Logan Grimnar. His voice was flat. Cold like the homeworld of the Wolves. “And I fear we do not have much time to do so.”
Arjac nodded. The doors closed. The tapestries stirred in the resulting breeze.