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post #17 of (permalink) Old 02-12-12, 06:43 PM
VulkansNodosaurus
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Heresy Online Expeditious Stories 12-02
VulkansNodosaurus
1058 words
Judgment’s Heat

In another Chapter, Vyx Lukr suspected, his errors would go unnoted. Perhaps he would be censured, but not… this.

But the Sons of Medusa, the Iron Hands’ most fervent successors, were not another chapter. And Vyx was not another Space Marine. He knew his sins, his folly, his weakness. He would atone for it, though the cost would be high.

In the end, his Squad’s loss had not been his fault- not entirely. The primary villain had been Aloam Kablar, an Iron Father, who had betrayed the Chapter and the Imperium for vengeance against Vyx. It had been petty, and the danger that it exhibited- the sheer ruin that unchecked emotion could bring- was a cloud that hovered over all Sons of Medusa and all Space Marines.

And Lukr’s fault in not preventing that ruin, however minor, would be punished. After all, Kablar was dead, and the Chapter could do nothing more against him.

“Enter.”

Lukr stepped into the chamber with heavy shoulders. He had seen the Room of Sentence many times before, but had never expected to be tried in it. It was an utterly black place, and even Lukr’s enhanced vision could discern only one source of light- a lamp some distance above the throne opposite him.

As he knelt, he considered the throne. The man sitting in it was his brother, but a far superior one; that was Vaylund Cal, Iron Thane of Clan Atropos and supreme commander of a third of the Sons of Medusa. He was flanked by two Venerable Dreadnoughts, representatives of the Chamber Ferrum; even in the dim light, Lukr could identify them as Mautwi Acmuhal and Axock Vyrabal, some of the highest-ranking Dreadnoughts of the Sons of Medusa.

It was rare that such a company was assembled in this room; typically, Cal stood alone, pronouncing a sentence of weakness on some xeno, serf, or renegade and executing them on the spot. A brother Marine required more care, for which Lukr was rather grateful. Even now, he was considered to be important.

“Battle-Brother Vyx Lukr.” Cal’s voice was deep and severe, even accusing. “Your weakness has been noted. We have conferred to decide your fate.”

Lukr knelt in the darkness and cold. This was humiliation, and not truly deserved; but it would be over soon, one way or another. Cal, unlike Lukr himself, was not known for drama. Nevertheless, as the Iron Thane paused, Lukr took a moment to defend himself.

“Remember,” he said, “that Kablar’s fault was infinitely greater than my own. Remember how you sanctified him, how you raised him to the ranks of the Iron Fathers! With me, at least, you can be certain that my weakness is limited to the body. For how many others can you say the same?”

“I would tell you to be silent, but that matters little.” Cal let out no laugh, no sign of mirth; he never did. “But you are right; your punishment must be less than Kablar’s. You will be allowed to serve your Chapter with your death. You will be sent, alone-” Lukr was already alone- “on a mission to recover lost artifacts belonging to the Chapter. Survival rate predicted as twenty percent for the average Space Marine, forty percent for the average Son of Medusa, twenty-five percent for you. Thus I pass my sentence.”

The silent Dreadnoughts turned and walked back. Cal remained alone.

“Rise. And go.”

That, Lukr did. He was not too unhappy with the punishment- it was severe, but no less than he had expected. Besides, the Chapter’s leadership always underestimated him.

He would go. And he expected to return.

* * *

“Brother-Sergeant?”

Vyx nodded to his former subordinate. “Apilun, you know that is no longer my designation.”

“Oh. I had forgotten. What will your punishment be?”

Lukr told him.

Apilun nodded. “That was in line with Iron Thane Cal’s prior decisions.” So he had been researching those prior decisions. “However, I- I still wish it did not have to be this way.”

“I do, too. But Cal is not known for mercy. I leave in a few minutes- will you escort me?”

He would. The two of them walked through sea-green hallways, passing by the core of the Fortress-Monastery. Hasit was in one of those halls- from rumors, Vyx guessed that he had abandoned Lukr completely. That was understandable.

“I don’t know,” Apilun said. “I do not see why I regret this. But I do. It is emotional, I suppose; I should not feel it, should I?”

“Emotion is not a sin, but a resource that can be used for good or ill. The flesh is weak, Apilun, but it should not be discarded entirely. Is hatred not an emotion? And should we not hate the weak?”

“Some Iron Fathers would consider this heresy.”

“Even Iron Fathers are not incorruptible.”

Apilun could only nod. The memory of Kablar still hung in both of their minds.

Vyx climbed into the fighter. After a few last goodbyes and a brief introduction to his new crew, he charged out of the hangar. Open space lay before him, a lightless void punctured by needles of star. The spaceship was holding together perfectly- as his mission was one of penitence, he had received one of the less-repaired models, meaning he could not have been sure of anything- and within moments, the fighter was weaving its way out of the Taelus system’s asteroid belt.

An utter blackness lay ahead of them, but Vyx had no fear. This was his destiny. Even if he would return, sooner or later he would meet his doom.

“Preparing Warp drives.”

“Preparing Gellar fields.”

“Securing vessel integrity.”

“Entering Warp!”

In two words, the chatter on the bridge ended. Outside the ship’s windows, black shattered, becoming a million unnatural hues. Each one was more garish than any of the others, and yet somehow each was the least painful of them all. There was no logic here, no concept of place.

The Navigator could see, with her Warp-Eye, the light of the Emperor’s Astronomicon. The rest of them were forced to either stare at the nightmare spacescape or drill the windows shut. Understandably, they did the latter.

The journey would take ten days. And after that, Vyx Lukr knew, there would be war, carnage, and death.

He could only hope it would not be his death. Hope- and fight.

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