The cell was a cold and humorless place, darkness painting every inch from wall to all and the corners in between. The creaking of metal and distant whispers of an iron heart seeped in through minuscule cracks in the otherwise texture-less faces of adamantium on all four sides and gave little else to remind the occupant that the outside world still existed. In the ceiling the carved figure of a circle, almost touching the four edges it framed itself above which was mirrored on the floor in perfect unison. In the center of this vault knelt the figure of a giant shackled to the center of the floor twice over with the sinew of cable binding the prisoner by his hands, neck, feet, knees and waist with barely enough slack to draw shallow breath. These brief sips of air were made even less pleasant by the staleness of taste and thickness of sweat-borne humidity. Surely this isolation was a purgatory no man could grin at...no human man.
The behemoth of rippling muscle and wild hair expended a hushed chuckle every now and again, a mixture of reminiscent thoughts and expectant humors. Trapped kneeling for what would feel like years could easily turn a mind inward on itself, leaving little of what had entered left to be released. This mind however, only ever sharpened itself even in times of near total sensory deprivation. This mind belonged to a legend. Lukas.
Known by many pseudonyms; The Strifeson, Jackalwolf, The Laughing One, The Trickster, each name was born proudly as nom de guerre of the infamous name of Lukas. Many knew him without name but through deed; Poisoner of Hrothgar, Siren of the Green Collapse, Foiler of the Plaguebearers, and Shepard of the Thin Ice to name a few. The titles meant little in and of themselves other than as reminders of the harrowing deeds that had won Lukas the reverence of many and the censure of some. Though opinion of him was as varied and myriad as his deeds, the one constant was from that of his enemies who had tasted both defeat and humiliation in their brief and often fatal encounters with the wolf-prince of discord.
Gradually the sounds emanating from beyond the cell changed and added to them a growing pressure in the air, as though the very gravity were shifting with the vaguely mechanical white noise. Dark lids drew back to unveil piercing blue eyes, the color of a frozen lake, as the gargantuan Lukas waded back into consciousness as though emerging from a lake to the shore. Though he was still unsure as to why he had been confined for the better part of six terran months, he was sure that the answers to the mystery were close at hand. Rolling his gaze upward and tilting back his head as far as the constraints would let him, he could see the etched circle in the ceiling become a ring of golden light. As it flooded the cell with illumination, the circle he had been bound to rose in perfect synchronization with its mirror counter-part until it was flush with the hole in the ceiling. With a lurching stop, the platform has become part the floor in the expanse of a cargo-deck, walkways and supply-boxes adorning the walls and corners of the store room. Without needing to turn, Lukas silently addressed the shadow that had been cast upon him from behind his broad shoulders with a voice cracked and rasping from lack of water.
"If this is about the Governor-Militant's wife, I promise all we did was talk. There's no reason I should have to travel second class."
The humor was thick in each word, though drought and starvation had tarnished his voice they could not stain his wit.
"You should feel honored Space Wolf. It took a team of three Adeptus to design and construct a cell worthy of your reputation."
The shadow replied flatly, no hint of mirth in its voice. A pair of stiletto boots clapped against the steel plating of the floor as they came into Lukas's periphery and on to the foreground in front of him. His eyes traveled up the tight-buckled thigh-boots to a gold chest plate that circled into a neck guard obscuring the lips of a Sister Sororitas. With hair the color of the pale Fernisian moon and a pair of scars that skirted the top of her brows to cross upward into the line of her bangs, the Battle-Sister was as beautiful as she was deadly. Lukas regarded her with a simple shrug and a rakish tilt of his head, he considered her approvingly though reserving his preference for the more full bodied contour of a real Fernisian woman.
"With any luck you were the one to take off my armor once I was under."
Lukas said hoarsely, a wry grin across his mouth which bared his elongated canines. As he spoke he tried to remember how he had gotten in the cell at all. His gene-enhanced memory brought back the scene of him and two of his bloodclaw brothers being summoned to the quarters of the Wolf Lord deep inside the fortress Fang on mother Fenris. Walking down the hallway in the ancient bastion, the last thing he remembered was the divergence of his brothers before him and a bolt-round speeding towards him out of the darkness as the doors to the Wolf Lord slid open. Then there was a flash of light and a noxious odor that consumed his senses and sent him into a deep coma, he hadn't even felt himself hitting the floor.
"I was spared such punishment. As for your armor, it has been carefully stored back in your chapter's armory until such time as it is necessary to restore it to you...if such a time does come at all."
The words were curt and every bit as pointed as the heels of her boots and the wings of the aquila across her chest. Only in death would an Astartes not need his armor returned and the implication was not lost on Lukas.
"Do I at least get to know the name of my jailer?"
He replied, his jovial tone settling some while his peaked brow did not.
"You may call me Sigma." came a voice from behind Lukas, a voice like his only smoother and with no small amount of of aristocracy, unlike Lukas's gravelly baritone of rugged guile.
As the voice chimed in, the Sister Sororitas, or so he thought, turned on her heel and circled back around Lukas's flank, exposing a white skull emblazoned on a thick white I on the plate of her shoulder armor. Inquisitors, it was just a matter of time Lukas thought to himself, an expression of disgust replacing his grin. Though Lukas had been blessed by birth and fortune to have become a member of the Space Wolves chapter, this gift was a blessing two-fold as the chapter also had a reputation of being very liberal in its interpretation of the Codex Astartes particularly when it came to behavior and organization. Such leeway had served Lukas's personality well lo these many centuries of service to the Allfather and Primarch Leman of Rus but it would seem that the infamous reputation had preceded him too far. There was no innocence in the eyes of the inquisition, only degrees of guilt, and Lukas was as innocent as they came. His fate has been decided and he let a sly grin grew upon his lips once more as he closed his frost-touched eyes and waited for the bolt to crush through the back of his dirt-orange mane and into his skull as was the favored method of execution for members of the Astartes such as he. But that time never came.
A withering crackle of dying energy came from the bonds around Lukas's body as they went slack, he was free at last. Raising up from his knees, he stood nearly seven and a half feet tall and was as broad as a oak from shoulder to shoulder. Time and stagnation had not atrophied his muscles, but he did allow himself a sweeping stretch of his arms and a backwards arching of his back as he let out a bellowing growl that became a whooshing sigh of relief once he stood straight-backed once more. Finally turning to face his mystery-benefactor, if he could be called such, his normally braided beard had become unkempt as had his hair but the scars of his body were as though they were etched in stone. One scar in particular, gruesome in its size and shape, was centered around his left pectoral and had in its center a tattoo of a laughing skull resting atop crossed axes, the foreboding humor of its design and placement known only to Lukas and the Apothacary who had treated the grievous wound.
The man before Lukas was no Astartes but was of great height and build for a human. His face hidden beneath the shadow of a black hood, the inquisitor known only as 'Sigma' betrayed the slightest of smirks before his lips parted and the fluid words spilled out into the empty air between them.
"Have you ever heard of the Deathwatch?"
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