Last second entry... ;)
There is an old, old belief, found in many cultures, that an innocent, a true innocent is capable of stopping a raging beast. That maybe pure Innocence, unable to contemplate the thought that any harm might come to it, renders the destructive will impotent, unable to maim the thing that gazes at it with absolute trust.
I used to scoff at this. Or rather, I would have scoffed, had I known about this sort of idea. I didn’t, for where I come from, there is no room for innocence. The thought that naiveté might stop a raging carnosaur is absurd – or rather, it would be absurd. It could never be put to the test on my world, because nobody is innocent there. Even the smallest child is aware of the ephemerality of its existence.
Life is fragile, short and worthless there. On Cretacia, from the moment you are born, you know that all you can aspire to is to leave enough of a mark on the world that when you succumb to mortality, you will be worthy of a burial, instead of being left to the jungle. And even if you are one of the chosen few, one of those taken in by the gods to become one of them, it does not change.
Innocence is not anything we contemplate. Not until something happened to me that makes me wonder now.
Battle was over, for now. The Tau and their gue’vesa lay dead on the floor of the Apothecarion. The smell of blood was strong in the air. Some of the dead were still burning... Watch-Captain Thomasius saw the flames, and other flames, too. Flames that were only burning in his mind.
Flames that shouldn’t stop him. There were traitors to kill. He tried to get up. Useless, his armour was all seized up, heavily damaged. If his scorched lungs had permitted it, he would have roared his frustration.
A soft voice, lilting. A strange accent. “Captain, let me look at those wounds.”
Thomasius growled, raising his powerfist. Enemies. That was all he could see with his half blinded eyes. He was dying and he wanted to take them with him; nothing else mattered.
A strong grip took hold of his arm, gently, but inexorably, pushing it down. “Captain. It is me, Juhani. The Apothecary.”
Thomasius lashed out with his other fist. Too slow, he did not connect. The other continued to talk.
“Captain. The battle is over. The Tau are dead. You were hit badly. I can help you.”
“No... help. Dying... It’s over...”
“Absolutely not. It is not over, Captain. We have a lot to do still. Do not give up.”
Pain crept into his senses, as the voice forced him to concentrate on it. The flames began to die down. The stench of burning flesh began to drown out the smell of the blood. His eyes focussed a little.
The Apothecary was kneeling in front of him, one hand on his shoulder, the other still immobilising his Powerfist. Clad only in Power Armour, he seemed so slight. Too slight to stop Thomasius in his Terminator plate, had he not been wounded so badly...
“Captain. Do you hear me now?”
“Yes. You took a plasma shot to the face, Captain, the Emperor damn those Tau...”
Thomasius merely growled again. Talking was too hard. Concentration was still fleeting, and the flames had not yet withdrawn completely.
Unhesitangly, the Apothecary began to work on his face, cleaning off the dead tissue, sealing the open wounds, applying painbalm and drugs to aid the healing process.
Halfway between here and there, the Captain barely felt a thing. He didn’t remember the battle. He barely remembered being shot. He gasped. He had been almost gone, he must have been... Why else was he missing so much? He had been wounded before... This had to be a last moment of calm...
“Apothecary.” He grabbed the younger Space Marine’s gauntlet in his large fist. There was the bulky Narthecium affixed to his vambrace and the storage units for the progenoid glands that were removed upon a Battle Brother’s death. Most of them were full.
“Mine. You must take mine. Now.”
“No, Captain. Never.” The boy recoiled. Boy... No, he was not a boy. He was a Space Marine, though he was so young. Thomasius fixed those calm blue eyes through the other’s lenses.
“I was almost lost. I tried to attack you. No choice. No chance. Take them. Now. Before... I am lost, they are lost...”
“NO.” The voice was still soft, still gentle, but full of steel now. “I will not kill you. You are not lost. We need you.” The Apothecary held the Captain’s gaze unflinchingly. “You are still here.”
Thomasius snarled. His breath hitched in his throat, and he struggled against the others grip, but Juhani never faltered. Finally, the flames died down. The pain subsided to a dull ache. The Watch-Captain shook his head to clear it.
“You do not understand. It...”
“I do not need to understand.” The Apothecary finally let him go and got up. “You are hurt, but not so badly. You can still fight and there are a lot of enemies left.” He held out his hand.
To this day, I don’t know why I took his hand and let him help me up. I don’t know why I followed him. I wonder why I had not killed him, while I was gone so far. All I know is that on this day, my time had not yet come. Maybe Sanguinius was with me, or the Emperor. I don’t know what it was that stopped me.
Maybe a certain old belief is true.
---From the Memories of Watch-Captain Armin Thomasius of the Deathwatch, formerly of the Flesh Tearers
Last edited by Liliedhe; 12-27-12 at 11:31 PM.