Dark Rivalry

I wrote this story for a competition, it’s based in the Warhammer 40k universe and is set leading up to the game, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade.
A month of travel in the warp might seem a long time for the average person, but for an Astartes who has been fighting with the Blood Angels for over a century Brother Logos was used to it. It afforded him time to get his armour and weaponry repaired and cleaned, along with plenty of spare time for reviewing mission logs, preparing for the next mission and training in the practise cages, which was where he was head now.
Their last mission had been to assist in the destruction of a Tyranid hive fleet splinter that had somehow circumvented the main defensive Space Marine deployments. The Tyranids were a mighty foe and extremely dangerous, having seemingly evolved for the sole purposes of killing and spreading their taint, however as an Astartes Logos was also created for the sole purpose of killing, which they proved to the Tyranids with ruthless efficiency. Their next mission had seemed almost worthless in comparison, they were to reinforce their fellow Blood Angels who were locked in a stalemate with some pesky Orks who simply refused to give up, the Orks were no real threat but their brother marines had only a minimal force, no enough to exterminate the barbaric greenskins completely.
So when they had received a distress call and were forced to change their course Logos was instantly more interested, while there was a chance that the distress call would turn out to be nothing it seemed unlikely. Forever curious; a trait that had got him into trouble on more than one occasion, Logos had tried to find out more about the distress call with limited success. He managed to find out that it had originated from the fifth planet in the Kharon system, an old imperial world called Arkhona, and that something had recently befallen the population of this planet but nobody seemed to have any idea what. He was unable to find out who had sent the distress call but the upper echelon of commanders seemed flustered, which meant whoever had sent it was important. A high priority distress call and an unknown enemy piqued his interested, but at the same time his instincts made him consider what they could be walking into.
Arriving in the practise cages he came across brother Rogmak already embroiled with the mechanized servitors that were programmed to oppose him with deadly strength and skill. The servitor’s multiple arms wielded blades that were razor sharp and lethal, these machines did not come with any sort of safeguards, it was up to the Astartes to defend himself, as brother Rogmak was doing with ease. As the blades flashed around him, targeting arms, legs, chest and head, Rogmak’s blades moved quicker and easily blocked the incoming strikes, sometimes countering with strikes of his own as if he had all the time in the world. Many of the servitor’s blades came close to reaching their mark but it was all planned and controlled, Rogmak would flex his arms, twist and block at the last second, leaving him in a perfect position to counter the next strike he had already seen coming.
A Space Marine could keep up that kind of pace for hours or even days against these single opponents, however many older marines no longer visited these cages, having too many duties to attend to and preferring real combat which had more variance and challenge to these pre-programme routines. Logos too preferred combat with a real foe who might suddenly do something unexpected or gain an ally during combat, the extra challenge made it a more enjoyable and intense experience, there was nothing better than to come up against a challenging enemy who forced you to use all your skill and strength to overcome them. However the practise cages served as a good substitute during these long voyages and a great warmup for actual warfare.
As Logos opened one of the cage doors and prepared to enter he heard Rogmak’s servitor power down and his fellow Space Marine exit the cage, he signed, here we go again he thought.
“Logos! What did I tell you, you can’t make up for being useless in combat by beating up servitors,” Rogmak said with an annoying smile.
Logos didn’t take the bait, “Warm up exercises purely Rogmak, I’m sure there will be plenty of combat to be had planetside, well…..maybe for me,” he countered with a cheeky smile, knowing Rogmak’s frustration that his squad hadn’t been chosen to be in the vanguard of the assault.
Rogmak glared at him intensely, “At least I don’t have to ask favours of the Captain to keep my kill count up,” he said knowing Logos was friends with their company Captain.
Logos just laughed, “You can’t bait me Rogmak, my martial skill proves why I should be in the vanguard, I don’t need to ask favours from anyone, now if you don’t mind I’d like to warm up before were arrive.”
Rogmak ground his teeth in reply, Logos just shook his head and gave him a sad smile, turning away towards the practise cages, arguments like this were quite common between the two of them. For years they had been rivals, but while Logos would sometimes try to outdo him, if he failed he simply shrugged it off and smiled which seemed to drive Rogmak insane. However on the occasions when Logos did succeed in outdoing him Rogmak’s anger was so intense that on a few occasions Logos had been concerned he was falling prey to the Black Rage, the dreadful affliction they many in their chapter fell prey to. However his superiors usually managed to keep him in check, and had nothing but praise for his combat abilities, they knew that if he could only get over these petty jealousies he could be a truly great warrior.
As Logos stepped towards one of the cages he suddenly stopped short, adrenaline surged through his system as a sword appeared inches from his throat.
“You want a warm up? I’ll give you a warm up, let’s end this, right here right now, let’s see who the better fighter is, first one to draw blood wins.”
“What is this?! This is foolishness brother, put down your blade and leave before your petty jealousy gets you in serious trouble.”
Logos’ eyes glowed with burning anger, how dare he threaten a fellow Astartes in such a manner, was his jealousy so deep seated he would risk the severe repercussions of such an act. As he looked into his eyes he saw something deep inside them he had not seen before, something dark and dangerous, something that unnerved him and told him that there was no way he was getting out of this situation.
“I’m going to wipe your usual smug smile right off your face Logos, once this is done you will never torment me again.”
Logos was sure what he said was meant as an agreement that whoever wins stays out of the others way, but the way he said it made Logos worry about just how far Rogmak would go to be rid of him. There was only one way out of this, no matter how much Logos disliked it, Rogmak needed to be taught a lesson.
In a flash of movement Logos twisted away from the blade, ducked under it and grabbed another from the rack to his back, continuing his spin in a crouched position he came back at Rogmak, aiming to cut at his side through his basic garb. Instead of meeting flesh however it met the steel of Rogmak’s blade, and so the combat began. Rogmak parried away Logos’ blade and went from a strike of his own to his upper sword arm, with armour on a blow like that would likely have glanced off his shoulder guard but Logos was very aware of how little protection he had apart from his sword. Rising from his crouch he deflected the blade then attempted to twist it out of Rogmak’s grip, hoping disarming him would end this foolish bout, unfortunately Rogmak was having none of it and withdrew his blade to his chest before lunging at Logos.
A blow like that could skewer an opponent, and the speed at which he delivered it surprised Logos, who avoided it by little more than a centimetre. Was Rogmak actually trying to kill him? There was definitely something different about him, he’d never took their rivalry this far before, Logos knew if he didn’t end the fight soon then things could escalate dramatically. Logos launched a series of fast strikes designed to keep the enemy on the back foot, forcing them to retreat, then he withdrew himself as if he had lost his momentum. Rogmak took the opportunity and, frustrated from being on the defensive, sprang towards Logos making an aggressive swipe at his head. Springing his trap Logos simply spun out of the way and dragged his blade across Rogmak’s chest, a light flesh wound but enough to draw blood.
Logos stood at ease, “It is over brother, now let us put this foolishness behind us.” He was tempted to leave but knew better than to turn his back on an opponent no matter the situation.
Rogmak charged at him with furious speed, pure rage on his face and an angry roar in his throat. His blows came thick and fast and Logos at first struggled to deflect them, taking a few minor cuts to his arms and chest, but Rogmak’s fury made him predictable; he was going for the obvious attacks, so Logos quickly adapted and kept him at bay. Any thought of this ending upon first bloodshed seemed to have been abandoned, it didn’t seem like the rational part of Rogmak’s mind was home at the moment, Logos had to find some way to end this, and as insane as Rogmak seemed he refused to contemplate killing a fellow Astartes.
Both Astartes danced round the room as their combat become ever more intense and deadly, their blades singing with the clash of metal, Logos’ calm controlled efficiency facing off against Rogmak’s mighty strength and fury, both marines landing blows on the other. While his attacks were predictable his fury was incredible and Rogmak managed to land several deep blows, one on Logos’ leg was serious enough to make Logos realise he would lose if this went on much longer, he had to end it now.
Just as Logos prepared a carefully aimed strike however the familiar feeling of the ship translating out of the warp overcame them, his resultant loss of concentration meant Rogmak easily managed to just parry his strike and, before Logos could react, he swung his mighty fist round and smashed it into Logos’ face. Pain echoed round Logos’ skull and he felt himself hit the deck, looking up he saw Rogmak towering over him, a malicious smile on his face as he stomped down hard on Logos’ wrist, almost breaking it and forcing him to let go of his sword.
A dark mask shrouding his face, Rogmak said, “You drove me to this Logos, but I admit it will give me great pleasure killing you. How could you ever believe you were stronger or faster than me?”
“I didn’t,” said logos, drawing his legs up to his chest, “but I knew I was smarter.” With that Logos drove his legs forward into Rogmak’s chest with all his strength. With a stunned grunt Rogmak flew backwards through the open door of the practise cage and slammed into the bars on the far side. Before he could recover Logos hopped to his feet and moved to the cage control panel, he quickly entered some commands and activated the training programme, which automatically closed and locked the door.
Recovering his senses Rogmak ran at the door, it wouldn’t take much for him to break through, but before he could bring his strength to bear he was forced to defend himself against the servitor as it began its deadly dance of blades. Roaring with frustration he furiously attacked the servitor, within minutes Logos knew it would be a pile of scrap metal, but he’d put the programme on one of its highest setting so it would give him more than enough time to get away.
Just then a voice came over the ship intercom announcing their arrival at Arkhona, ordering all marines to the embarkation deck to prepare for departure. He looked at Rogmak still fighting the servitor, which was now missing one of its arms, “You need to cleanse whatever it is that plagues you brother, I will not kill you by choice but should we meet on Arkhona do not force my hand”.
Turning away he walked out the room and headed towards the embarkation deck, listening to Rogmak’s roars of fury and the crunch of metal as he hacked more limbs off the helpless servitor. Rogmak’s condition worried him, he had seen the results of the Black Rage before and these were not it, the Black Rage would not turn you against a brother Astartes in such a malicious way, this was something else, something for more dark, insidious and dangerous. Logos knew this wasn’t the end, Ragmak would come for him again, on the surface of Arkhona this would be decided, and Logos would be ready for him.