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- Vesher Nero: "I have garnered power so that I may reshape the world as I see fit, as it should be, while you've denied yourself every opportunity. You remain but one of a million common Astartes, and I've grown beyond you, Halius. What chance do you think you stand?"
- Halius Aetherius: "I've remained true to myself, Nero, as you should have done. Now remember what one Astartes can do!"
- ―Halius enters combat with the Chaos Champion he once called Brother.
Veteran Sergeant Halius Aetherius, more swiftly recognized simply as Halius, was a Space Marine of the Aetherian Warriors Chapter, Second Company. Though he had previously been a member of the veterans' First Company, great personal shame led him to be transferred to a less prestigious command, and he refused well-earned advancement for himself on multiple occasions.
Path to GreatnessEdit
In 694.M41, the boy whom would one day be known as Halius was born to two members of a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe on the feral world of Lupa in the Segmentum Obscurus. He was one of the few infants in the tribe to survive his first year, and many hopes were placed upon him as he began to grow strong. Soon after he had learned to walk, he fell from the lip of a cave where the tribe had taken shelter and was gravely injured by it. His father, desperate to save him, risked his own life by striking out on his own to find more food and herbs to help his son heal, and was eventually killed by his efforts. They were not in vain, however, as the child would recover afterward thanks to his father's courage and the knowledge of their tribal shaman.
Left fatherless, the boy was expected to pick up the work left behind to help the tribe survive. He rose to the challenges of their hard-earned life, hunting dangerous wild beasts and hiding from even more dangerous predators, but there was nothing he enjoyed more than listening to the legends of the sky warriors their tribe's shaman related to them. Though the others had long since bored of her few tales being told time and again, this child did not, questioning every detail she could remember and speculating what was left unknown. As he grew into a young adult, however, he was sometimes ridiculed by the other men about his fondness for the shaman's stories.
The events that would lead the young man's life to change forever began when a stranger began following the nomad tribe, and after some initial hesitance was approached by a few of the warriors. The stranger was revealed to be a beautiful woman from off-world whom had fled to Lupa to hide, and her loveliness soon made her accepted by the tribe leader's authority. Though she pleased the leader to gain acceptance into the tribe, it was the young man the woman took an interest in, and began to engage him starting with initiating him into proper manhood. She also showed him a number of tricks with her foreign knowledge that allowed him to be a better hunter than his fellows, bringing him enough success that it looked as if he would soon be able to challenge the old chieftain and claim the woman rightfully as his own.
A month afterwards, however, the tribe began to be followed again, this time by a huge man in the armor of a sky knight. While at first the young man wanted to meet him, the woman convinced both him and the tribe leader to move on and avoid him at all costs, taking the tribe farther up into the hostile mountains than they had ever gone before. As the sky knight continued to pursue them, the woman's franticness and the men's willingness to follow her soon caused them to lose members of the tribe to the harsh conditions and accidents on the sheer cliff faces, and though she warned the young man of a coming treachery, the shaman he had known since childhood was one of those whom passed away. When his mother fell from the peak of a glacier, the young man could no longer go on and stayed to mourn despite the woman's protests.
It was then that the sky knight caught up with them. The Space Marine, whom was a member of the Ecclesiarchy, attempted to kill the woman, but it would not be as simple a task as he had thought. The woman was a Chaos cultist devoted to Khorne, and had been seeking to turn the tribes of Lupa to her heretical god's will from the beginning. The tribal leader, whom she had already bewitched, threw himself at the Ecclesiarch, attempting to push them both from the cliff. While he was distracted, the woman sought to take the cleric by surprise with a plasma knife, but was herself slain by the hand of the young man, whom had finally heeded the old shaman's warnings. Greatly impressed by the man's initiative, the representative of the church took the last member of the tribe back with him to be trained to become a Space Marine.
As Lupa was within the recruiting domain claimed by the Aetherian Warriors, its Apothecaries had first rights to appraising him, and after screening he was accepted by the Blood Angels successor Chapter. Taken to the Chapter's monastery on Atargatis II, as a ward of the chapter he would be given the name Halius Aetherius to identify himself and begin training in such basic things as the learning of Low Gothic speech. As the first rites of passage began, Halius found himself in a rivalry with another Aspirant named Vesher Nero. Nero was a Hive World-born recruit whom had eked out a living by stealing and murdering his fellow beggars in the undercity, and his understanding of the world was completely at odds with Halius. Where Halius had lived by supporting and being supported by the members of his tribe, Nero had needed to look out for himself alone to survive, and while Nero thought of him as a stupid primitive, Halius in turn regarded Nero as selfish and arrogant.
On their path to becoming proper Initiates of the Space Marines, the Aspirants were rigorously tested on their memorization of the Codex Astartes, which for Halius proved difficult, and also in their ability to survive on the inhospitable Death World of Atargatis II, in which the feral-world native excelled. While other Neophytes succumbed to predators, natural toxins, or the breaking of their very minds to become Chapter Serfs, Halius learned quickly the dangers and resources of the planet's unforgiving ecosystem. Their last trial, however, would be against far more cunning and dangerous enemies: one another.
The Blood Duel pitted every Aspirant of the current crop against one another in one free-for-all deathmatch, and were told that once few enough candidates remained, the test would end. They had no choice but to turn on those they'd called brothers for so long, slowly deciding whom they would break alliances with next as their numbers were whittled down. The Aetherian Warriors' Chaplains overseeing the match, however, called no end to it, and at last, with the stone knives they'd been given drenched time and again in blood, only Halius and Nero remained. Halius had been bloodied by a slash across his chest and torn ligaments in all his limbs along with a number of lesser wounds, and though the injuries weakened him, Nero was not without his own marks, including a gouged-out eye and stone blade lodged in his leg. Throwing themselves at one another, the rivals threw themselves into battle with abandon, driving one another into the pit's walls and slashing with the crude blades. At last, when the two were barely able to stand, and it looked as if the last to bleed out would be the winner, the match's end was called. Both had succeeded the last test on their path to becoming Initiates of the Space Marines.
Recovering from the final trial took both new Neophytes a month, during which they underwent their first geneseed implantations. Like most Aetherian Warriors, Halius and Nero were spared from the genetic flaws inherent in the successor chapters of the Blood Angels, the Black Rage and Red Thirst. Otherwise, both were average by the standards of a Space Marine. In 710.M41, both were formally inducted as Scout Marines of the Aetherian Warriors' 10th Company and deemed fit to wear the deep reds of the chapter color scheme upon their light Scouts' power armor.
Neophyte and InitiationEdit
Both new Marines were placed within the chapter's Second Company commanded Captain Corradino Breda, in the squad led by Veteran Sergeant Mario Corleone, whom had been one of the first Aspirants recruited by the Aetherian Warriors. Despite the lasting enmity between his new recruits, Corleone would tolerate no grudges between Battle-Brothers to interfere with the effectiveness of his unit, and bluntly ordered them to "get along or be seconded to the Imperial Guard as packmules."
While the new Astartes spent weeks waiting for their first call to action, war was already being waged in the neighboring Segmentum Ultima. The expansive Ork WAAAGH! Blundabeast, which for a time had threatened only minor Xenos worlds, began to gain momentum and was at last noticeable enough for Battlefleet Ultima to dispatch a battlegroup and a number of Ultramarines to end its threat. During the massive void engagement that followed, one of the largest cobbled-together Kill Kroozers ever seen was knocked off-course while preparing to attempt an ill-conceived FTL jump, and disappeared without trace, thought to have fallen into the Warp. However, weeks later, a single cry for help came through the psychic network from an Astropath on Istros, a mid-sized civilised world on the other side of Segmentum Ultima's border with the Obscurus. Her plea explained that the Orks had appeared from nowhere to begin overrunning the planet, and revealed to the Imperium where the lost Kill Kroozer had emerged and crashed. A detachment of the Aetherian Warriors, including Sergeant Corleone's squad, were dispatched at once to end the Xenos' incursion on the Emperor's domain.
Carried by a Battlefleet Obscurus transport, the Aetherian Warriors made landfall several kilometers from the shipwrecked Kroozer, finding the mountain valley in which it lay overrun with Greenskins. Calling in a strike from the Fleet elements in orbit, they watched as the valley was cleansed of all life, every last fungal spore incinerated, before deploying to the surrounding area to hunt down what remained. Soon, however, they would find their task more difficult than they'd imagined, as the true majority of Orks had already abandoned the wreck and escaped its destruction. What's more, the massive Kroozer had been carrying enough Orks to begin a new splinter-WAAAGH! of its own, and began to swell in numbers even as squads of Astartes began purging them. While the fleet began to isolate the xenos-tainted area through orbital bombardment, the handful of Space Marines was diverted to fulfill a new objective – rescuing the Astropath that had sent the distress call.
At the time of the change in orders, Corleone's squad had been protecting a group of several dozen survivors of the Ork attack that had managed to stay hidden. Being ordered to abandon them did not sit well with Halius, whom had started out in a tight-knit tribe that relied on each other, and petitioned his Sergeant to stay with the civilians at least long enough to see them to safety. This brought him again into direct conflict with the stricter Nero, who tried to berate him and only succeeded in getting into an argument. Vet. Sgt. Corleone shouted them down almost at once, and ruled that the squad would abide by their duty. Before they left, however, Halius did his best to ensure the citizens of the Imperium would be prepared to fight any Orks they encountered in their flight. Picked up in the chapter Thunderhawk Height of Freefall, the detachment was flown to the fallen planetary capital of Winchelsea to join the search for the Astropath, and were dropped into the midst of the Ork host.
Alternately shooting and circling around the roiling sea of Greenskins, the Neophytes reached Winchelsea's central citadel just as it was breached, and learned by seeing from afar that the growing Ork horde had found a new leader in Klickbuum, who was quickly growing into the size and role of a Warboss in his own right. With Nero's expertise in navigating cities, Corleone's Marines were able to get inside the citadel without having to face the full strength of the new WAAAGH! Klikbuum. Within, they met up with their company's leader, Captain Corradino Breda, who had managed to bypass the horde by means of a diversion carried out by his own squad. Under the Captain's leadership, the squad located the Astropath and a few members of the deceased planetary governor's family in a treasury vault, but had Klickbuum himself close on their heels.
Captain Breda ordered the squad to split up, tasking Corleone, Halius, and Nero to retrieve the survivors while the rest of them delayed the xenos. Reaching the vault, and breaching its door easily despite the safety the governor's family had thought it would be, they found the Astropath Pythia alive and well. Halius was captivated by the frail and borderline-insane woman, who wandered the room muttering broken phrases from the vast amount of information constantly relayed through her head as part of the Imperium's psychic network. With Pythia and the governor's remaining family in tow, Corleone ordered the squad to regroup with Breda and complete their mission. The two groups met at a rooftop landing pad to rendezvous with Height of Freefall, and joined Breda's team in fighting off the Orks that had hounded them every step of the way. Facing impossible numbers and striving to protect the undefended citizens, things went from bad to worse when Klickbuum joined battle himself.
With two of the Aetherians who'd been flanking him already dead, Breda was unprepared when the growing Warboss started lobbing explosives at him. Nonetheless, Breda evaded the blasts and cut his way through the Orks, closing the distance between himself and Klickbuum in a matter of seconds. Bringing his chainsword down in an arc, Breda turned the stolen Power Klaw, impaling and killing him instantly. As Klickbuum neared the stirring Captain, Halius and Nero ran to his defense, attacking from either flank to take the hatred-consumed Warboss by surprise.on Klickbuum's arm to scrap, but in doing so detonated the store of grenades the weapon had readied. Breda was knocked unconscious by the resulting blast, but Klickbuum remained standing, scarred and angered. Advancing to crush the Space Marine Captain beneath his massive green foot, Klickbuum was intercepted by Vet. Sgt. Corleone, who made use of the greenskin's weak side to drive an Astartes Knife hilt-deep in the Warboss' leg. This only further angered the Ork, however, who turned and broke through the senior Astartes' torso armor with the single blade of a wickedly curved
As Nero attacked unarmed and disabled the Power Klaw by pulling it apart, Halius jumped and used the protruding handle of the yet-embedded Astartes Knife as a foothold, leaping onto the massive Ork's back to fire his Bolt Pistol at its armor-plated head. No sooner had he discharged his first shot than Klickbuum shook his good arm free of Nero, and swung up to dislodge Halius. The young Space Marine was hurled almost over the edge of the landing pad, hanging from the side of the citadel spire in tons of Astartes Power Armor. Climbing back up, he found himself beside the body of one of his fallen fellow Aetherian Warriors, and picking up his Battle-Brother's Godwyn Bolter, rushed back into the fray. Just as Klickbuum was about to execute Nero, Halius roared a battlecry in challenge and goaded the Ork into charging at one another. At the last possible second, Halius ducked under the Warboss' swing and grabbed the combat knife still lodged in Klickbuum's leg. Holding fast, he pulled it through the charge, severing the muscles along the back of the xenos' leg and bringing down the Warboss. Turning as Klickbuum struggled to rise, Halius unloaded the Godwyn-pattern Bolter's magazine through the dented armor on the Ork's head.
- "I would have my Sergeant's knife back, Ork . . . you may keep my bullets."
- ―Halius executes the fallen Warboss.
Just in time, the Height of Freefall arrived and extracted the remaining Astartes and other humans from the citadel, making sure to collapse the spire to kill a few more Orks in retribution as they left. As they caught their breath aboard, Halius apologized to Nero, admitting that it better served the Emperor to have rescued the Astropath for whatever crucial information she held. For saving his life, Nero reconciled with his Battle-Brother about their past differences, and in honor of their Sergeant's memory vowed to stand united against the Imperium's enemies. Captain Breda, whom had recovered in time to lift the Astropath aboard himself, commended both of them for their bravery, and Halius' actions especially, and through his recommendation, both were offered transfer to the Aetherian Warriors' prestigious First Company to fight alongside the chapter's most seasoned veterans.
Holding to their word, Halius and Nero made the effort to truly bond with one another, though it oftentimes proved difficult. Most commonly, the two participated in theological discussions regarding the God-Emperor and other supposed deities; Halius alikened the Emperor to the totem spirits that had been revered by his tribe, seeing him as the spiritual embodiment of humanity while others on his level existed, while Nero believed him to be an all-powerful godly entity, responsible for every action in the universe and was only challenged by the Ruinous Powers of the Warp because they came from another reality entirely. Though early on it tested their will to remain civil, as time passed the discourses helped them learn to keep their tempers in check and respect the sanctity of one anothers' beliefs.
Though more than a few Astartes were at first wary of the two Space Marines who had been so quickly assigned to the veterans' company, their fears were soon laid to rest as Halius and Nero proved themselves in conflict after conflict against Ork, Tau, and Eldar encroachment upon Imperial space. Through nigh on a hundred years of service to the God-Emperor, the two fought every battle by each others side, sharing in hard-won victory and bitter defeat together, their friendship clear to their brethren to be as strong as the bonds of legendary Battle-Brothers in the tales of Remembrancers. But ultimately, it would come to an end with Phasis.
A Dread WarningEdit
Late in the year M41.809, the governor of the human agricultural world of Phasis would receive the first reports of small, isolated farming plantations and small township settlements ceasing communication. Thinking little of the incidents in a galaxy where so much could and regularly would go wrong, he was not surprised when the commanders of his Imperial Guard regiment reported that the dwellings and their inhabitants had been leveled with no survivors, and chalked the matter up to feral alpha predators or passing xenos agents. As it continued, he permitted the Guardsmen to dispatch a company-sized force to deal with whatever was causing the damage, but when the entire unit failed to report in or return, including the Thunderhawk transports which had deployed them, he began to grow worried, and requested the intercession of the Space Marine chapter responsible for guarding Phasis: the Aetherian Warriors.
While normally such troubles of a third-rate Imperial world would have been below the Adeptus Astartes, one squad's worth of the Veteran's First Company was in range and could respond weeks faster than any organization the governor could petition through normal channels, and the squad, led by Senior Veteran Sergeant Cessarino Rossi, and including Brothers Halius and Nero, was permitted to assist them in this matter. Descending aboard a Storm Eagle gunship, the Aetherian Warriors headed for Murgatroyd, the city most recently to have been silenced, but on approach their gunship suddenly experienced systemwide failures and plunged out of the sky, forcing the Astartes within to bail out before hitting the ground.
Their resolve only strengthened by the desire to find out what had caused their crash, the Space Marines entered the city to find a wake of carnage and devastation. Everywhere, humans had been slaughtered, cut apart by the clean edge of a power weapon and left to slick the streets with blood. The precision with which it was done confounded them, for there was none of the damage done to the structures that one would have expected with an invasion sizable enough to wipe out so many. Whats more, the thoroughness of the deed was total; not one man or woman, child or elder had been left alive. Even infants lay dead beyond the outstretched arms of the mothers who had died defending them.
In the center of the city, they found the perpetrator they sought kneeling down in prayer, his dormant power sword half-blade deep in the permacrete below and wearing the same blood red armor as Halius and his squad. He was Paolo Salvatore, Company Champion of the Aetherian Warriors, whom had disappeared almost a century before during a fearsome battle with forces of Chaos, his body never recovered. When the Astartes asked him why he had done this, murdering thousands of denizens of the Imperium, Salvatore answered that he had saved their souls, by parting them with the world before evil could corrupt them. When pressed further, he posed to them the question of whether it was better to die innocent or live in sin, and refusing to come back with them, Salvatore drew his power sword from the ground and attacked his former brothers.
- "Friends make the fiercest of enemies . . ."
- ―Salvatore's prophetic last words.
The battle was over swiftly; though Salvatore was a master of his weapon, perhaps more skilled than any of the veterans opposing him, the skilled teamwork of the long-standing companions quickly found a way through his defenses, and Nero struck Salvatore down himself. Rossi's squad then removed the body of their chapter's fallen Champion and bore him back to Atargatis II for autopsy to discover if Chaos had corrupted him and eventual burial. He was found to be free of taint, only worrying more Halius and Nero, who had been deeply disturbed by their brother Space Marine's actions and words, even more so now that he was revealed to have done so with a mind that was intact and his own.
Fall of PhasisEdit
13th Black CrusadeEdit
Personality and TraitsEdit
Halius was known for a steadfast determination in battle which went beyond even the norm for a Space Marine. While no stronger than most other Battle-Brothers, his sheer force of will afforded him an impressive endurance, but his limits were not boundless. When they were exceeded, Halius risked his life by stubbornly rising to take part in combat, in spite of the most grievous wounds. His nigh-suicidal resolve was the result of his closest Battle-Brother's fall to Chaos, which Halius blamed himself for not seeing and either reporting to the Inquisition or dissuading Nero from himself. For allowing his loss, Halius sought his absolution through fighting until death, giving every last ounce of his strength to redeem himself in the Emporer's eyes. His guilt led him to deny himself any reward for his hard-driven work, be they well-earned promotions or merely a little excess rest. This made him far more resistant to the influences of Nurgle or Slaanesh, but the bloodshed he threw himself headlong into only brought him closer to the worship of Khorne, the very Chaos God that had claimed his brother and the one he hated most.
While he has been left relatively un-scarred for a Space Marine after three centuries of combat, Halius' deep green eyes betray the sorrow beyond his years that already taxes this Aetherian Warrior. Though they harden and become filled with cool determination during combat, once this temporary state has passed, the facade fades, and a weary expression returns to Halius' unnaturally pale visage. From ages spent inside his armor, his skin is starkly white, and is lined with veins that run through the surface of his superdense muscular structures. The patch of black hair upon his head is kept short, though often uneven, as when a proper cut is unavailable, Halius will slice away whatever parts become distracting to him.
- Mark Vb Godwyn-Pattern Boltgun
The most widely-used pattern of Bolter throughout all of the Adeptus Astartes chapters, Halius' personal primary armament was taken from the hands of one of his fallen brothers on Istros, and has remained with him ever since. While there is nothing special about the weapon, it is as versatile a weapon as any in the Astartes' arsenal, capable of accommodating standard, Kraken, or other special ammunition and being modified in pattern to suit specialized mission parameters.
- Mario Corleone's
Taking up the blade of the fallen Sergeant under whom he was first commanded as a Space Marine, Halius has kept the simple, if massive, weapon carefully sharpened. The blade is more than a meter long, and its cutting edge sharper than the fangs of a Trygon. Under its own weight, the blade can be dropped and sink into solid stone, and with Halius' strength behind it, can pierce the hardest armor most any foe of the Imperium should hope to wear.
- Spear of Aetherius