A Burden to Bear
1068 words, excluding title
His vivid emerald eyes stared at the world below, it was called Caxis IV. He had studied the world for hours upon hours prior to his mission there and knew every detail of it with the exacting nature of a scholar. Caxis IV had been discovered during the Great Crusade by the warriors of the Raven Guard, and it was rumored that Primarch Corax even walked upon its temperate continents. It had, unfortunately, betrayed the Imperium during the Heresy of the Arch-Traitor Horus Lupercal and was put down by a contingent of the Imperial Guard supported by elements of the Salamanders. Since those days Caxis was the model world for which every other in the sector would have done well to stride to mimic. It was temperate, yet maintained a healthy degree of industry and a strong standing planetary defense force. Its governor’s was essentially a hereditary monarchy but each one was extensively and carefully groomed to assume the role whenever their appointed time came and it was said that their genetic-purity was amongst the finest in the sector.
Its people were also a prime example of the Imperial Cult and the population maintained a solid faith in the God-Emperor, kneeled when told, and asked very little in the way of questions. They were content to live their lives as the Imperium deemed fit and to die with the knowledge that by gracefully accepting their roles in the vast galaxy that they were aiding the God-Emperor in more ways than they could imagine. He had enjoyed their company during his stay on the world, albeit it was done purely in the name of business and faith. Many a noble house welcomed him with open arms, with a noticeable degree of distance kept – only fools enjoyed his presence completely. The Governor Barthal, or rather King Barthal, had been just as welcoming as his nobles giving display to a great parade in his honor and showering him with honor and prestige. His profession did not often dabble in such pleasures of the flesh but he had found it refreshing that they assisted in his work, speeding it along and allowing him to root out the necessary evils that lurked in their society.
Of course, as his master often said, the life of an Inquisitor is never an easy one and anything that seems easy is often equally deadly. Those words had saved his life on Caxis IV too many times when he delved just a little too deep. To an unwary soul his probes into the nobility and the population would have seem adequate to insure compliance with Imperial Law – he had even burned a few select individuals from all rings of society and executed a number of less-than-faithful individuals with the full assistance of the people and administration. That was their first mistake. Far too often in his line of work when he had to employ the Emperor’s Mercy upon those whom had fallen from grace it was often resisted and required him to show even more brutal tactics to get the point across. In the off chance that the governor showed no resistance, they were often cold towards him afterwards and did everything they could to usher him off-world promptly. Governor Barthal had not and in fact offered up a string of other names that his and the local Ecclesiarchy had agreed upon. Barthal now laid dead upon the steps of his own palace, a bolt-round pulping his skull.
He was not surprised that there was a reaction to his killing of the governor – he’d have been truly frightened if the planet continued along its calm demeanor after that. He was surprised by was had lurked beneath the surface – a genestealer cult. Within an hour of Barthal’s execution the entirely capital hive-city was in flames as the genestealers rose up in a bloody tide. He had attempted to organize a resistance, and met with limited success. That limited success quickly became crushing defeat and he had been required to turn the capital city into a funeral pyre by overloading its subterranean reactors and sending it up in cleansing atomic fire.
Per Imperial Protocol a request for assistance was sent out and within weeks the Imperial Guard arrived and descended upon the world. He had been there every step of the way, absolutely refusing to yield the world to the Tyranid filth. The 288th Jagite Regiment, the 290th Gholgothian Artillery Regiment, and the 59th Redolin Armored Division had followed his strong suggestions to the letter. The campaign to save Caxis IV was nothing short of legendary. The Jagites had held the line across the Bleak Plains, with the Redolin cracking every genestealer attempt to break their lines and the Gholgothians singing their war songs over the vox system as they rained fire upon the xeno. Though inch by inch, yard by yard, and mile by mile they were ground down by the billions strong Tyranid. Their last remnants had fallen back to the space port where he had launched off into space upon notice of his master’s arrival in system.
Now he stood above Caxis IV with his heart thumbing quietly in his chest as the burden of his oath to the God-Emperor tightened around his soul and mind. He had fought for this world from the very beginning and he could not attempt to descend into self-loathing, for he had done all that was in his power to cleanse it … but some cancers are simply too vicious for even the more resilient of treatments.
‘Do not burden yourself Mikel,’ said the stern voice of his master, Inquisitor Halmen, ‘The death of a world is never an easy thing to bear … the death of good men even harder.’
‘There is more I could have done master … if only I had seen clearer … if only I ha-‘
‘Though you did not and you have learned a valuable lesson, and you will not repeat this mistake again.’
Mikel nodded and kept his eyes upon the world below, where even now soldiers died awaiting a rescue that would never come, ‘Admiral Yanis … by my authority … begin Annihilation Protocol, by the Grace of the God-Emperor.’
Below them the Imperial Guard never knew why they died – only that the blackened war-torn skies above them opened and it was not drop-ships that blessed them … but the Emperor’s Mercy.