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post #11 of (permalink) Old 03-10-12, 08:30 AM
Davidicus 40k
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The Cycle
(1,099 words, including title)

Aldrioch – City of Giants – is exactly as I remember it. I never thought I’d see it again.

Split into several equidistant boroughs, Aldrioch was designed to be Axel Nova’s primary manufacturing center. The city was built around the Macharius Industrial Complex, a forty square mile amalgamation of manufactories, refineries, and fabrication mills sprawling across a plateau in the northeastern corner of the metropolis.

I’m a simple miner, working in the shafts that snake through the mountains behind the MIC. I live in Hittari District, a long, shallow string of identical, pre-fabricated habs that hug the northern face of the mesa. Each hab is a squat, two-story structure, nothing more than rockcrete and wood over a metal skeleton.

On this day, 427.999.M41, I’m walking back from a particularly long shift. The chalky white dust of the mines clings to my worn clothes, and I’m surrounded by fellow miners heading down the main thoroughfare that bisects the district. I’ve done this before, on this very day, and I know what’s coming.

Those around me are oblivious. I fear many of them will not live to see tomorrow.

Something compels me to look up. In the cloudless twilight sky, I see a raven circling overhead. I hear a name in my mind: Suul’Khan. I feel gratitude. It was he who gave me this gift; I won’t squander it.

The apocalypse begins in three… two… one.

A massive roar disrupts the evening peace. Seconds later, I gasp as I’m hit with a shockwave of pressurized air. All of habs’ windows are blown out, sending cascades of glass trickling down, and the support beams within groan with the effort of absorbing the impact. I turn to the south and see an immense fireball rising slowly, wreathed in thick, black smoke.

I remember that explosion; it came from the Harland Petrochemical plant, one of the oldest and most hazardous manufactories in Aldrioch. It will spark a firestorm that will feast upon the stockpiles of chemicals and other flammable materials throughout the MIC, then spread down the plateau and devour Hittari District.

Last time, I didn’t get to them quickly enough. This time will be different.

Everyone around me is stunned. I can imagine what’s going through their minds – questions like whether or not the city is under attack or whether or not their loved ones in the MIC are safe – but I don’t care. I ignore my fatigue and run westward, pumping my legs hard.

As I sprint, I pass by the innumerable loudspeakers and public viewscreens along the avenue. They halt their monotonous propaganda to broadcast emergency news reports and evacuation procedures. Now the district starts to panic. I focus only on what is directly in front of me; I have no other concern than getting home. Occasionally, I look to the south and observe the ever-growing columns of fire-lit smoke rising into the atmosphere.

Faster, faster; I have to hurry.

By the time I reach my street, my legs are heavy as lead and I’m desperately gasping for breath. I’ve pushed my body too far, but it was worth it; I still have a chance. The inferno has reached the street behind mine, spreading quickly. Smoke and ash chafe my throat and eyes. Glowing embers fly through the air, propelled by the hot gusts created by the firestorm. Sweat covers my brow, my face, and all exposed skin. My body is screaming at me, telling me not to go towards the oppressive heat of the rapidly approaching fire, but I push myself the last distance to the hab’s entrance. When I open the door, I finally let out a sigh of relief.

I stagger down the narrow hallway that connects the major rooms until I reach the door at the end. It opens into the master bedroom, and…

There they are, waiting anxiously for me.

Amanda, my wife; John, my son, nearly six this year. I feel a mixture of love and anger; they waited for me when they should’ve already evacuated. Amanda sees me and rushes over to my open arms. She’s sobbing and apologizing, saying that if they didn’t wait, there’d be little chance we would’ve found each other in the overcrowded evacuation center. She didn’t want John going through that ordeal.

“I understand, Amanda,” I assure her. “But we have to move quickly!”

As she grabs John’s hand and hurries him towards the entrance, I nearly cry tears of joy. This was the second chance I’d always wanted. The first time, I wasn’t fast enough, and I’d arrived at the hab after it had caught on fire.

I’d charged in, frantically searching through the rooms until I found Amanda and John. My son had been huddled in the near corner, but Amanda had become separated, nearly surrounded by a wall of burning death. She'd urged me to grab John and get out of there before the entire building collapsed.

I’d had a choice: heed her final wish and save my son, or sacrifice myself to get them both out. I chose the latter and regretted it the rest of my days. When I finally passed away, I thought it was salvation; I met Suul’Khan, a kindly denizen of the Warp who protected me from the ravenous harpies that tried to rip me apart and offered me a chance to rectify my mistake. I accepted his offer and received this gift. I’m forever in his debt.

I follow my family towards the entrance. Amanda reaches out and opens the door, then collapses with a heavy thud. John faints a moment later. Alarmed, I rush over to them and see a lanky, shadowy figure blocking the doorway. I stare at its avian face and the name slithers through my mind: Suul’Khan.

“What are you doing?” I ask, betrayed.

It cackles and snaps two of its elongated, feathery fingers. The hallway around me bursts into flames, and I watch as they consume Amanda and John. Why? How could he do this to me? My disbelief turns into rage as my skin begins to char. I scream as I die, cursing Suul’Khan’s name. The daemon delights in my torment, and the last thing I see are its malevolent blue eyes.


“So entertaining,” the daemon hisses, chuckling. “This soul has plenty of guilt left to exploit. I shall let him save his family once more.”

With a subtle thought, the reality in its realm is erased and rebuilt, including the plaything’s most recent memories.


Aldrioch – City of Giants – is exactly as I remember it. I never thought I’d see it again.

"Consequence of Mercy" - Written for KingOfCheese

Last edited by Davidicus 40k; 03-10-12 at 08:32 AM.
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