Flames from Heaven - 907 words
It is always with me.
Hope you all enjoy this insight to the thoughts of a lone Blood Angel. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
I feel it like a blind man feels the sun on his face - as a pressure, unseen but always felt: a force just behind the eyes but there all the time.
I lie on the cold concrete of my bed, listening to the subdued hum of the watch-station's generators and the gentle click of the station's recorders as they monitor and catalogue some changing observation.
What is my life?
Still it lingers in the corners of my mind, like a cobweb just out of reach: a niggling presence, like a driving splinter in my mind, something I cannot ignore:
The Rage; The Thirst.
I fight these things in the quiet when the tumult of battle is stilled; when the last enemy falls, my battle continues. I hold damnation in the palm of my hand – and I must clench it tight, lest it consume me and all I believe.
May the Emperor guide me in these darkened watches of the night. May I remain within his grace for eternity.
My honour is my life.
I cannot sleep.
I sit up, my feet moving to rest on the cold, metal decking. In the corner of my cell stands a low wooden table, surmounted by an ebony statue of the Emperor and fallen Sanguinius. A small candle stub remains beside; I light it, and its feeble luminance shines brightly in the suffocating darkness.
What is my fate?
The gentle glow of the candle shades the features of our Primarch and our Emperor. Shadowy tears well from their ebony eyes.
I feel myself slipping away into blackness, my eyes telling me of the peril which threatens my soul – it is almost tangible and I nearly fall.
My duty is my fate.
Few of my chapter serve in these desolate regions. Commander Mordigael has been stationed in this sector for many years, but he is far away at Erioch, and I am here: a small station with little more room than is necessary for the maintenance of a lone Astartes and his equipment. Nothing more.
My lips move as I ask for guidance, for strength, but there is no surcease to my torment. No answer to my questions, only silence.
I step outside my cell and walk the cramped and acrid spaces of the station, grown so much larger by the blackness, shadows pressing in from all sides.
What is my fear?
Chaplain Andreus often told me, when I came to him disturbed by the Rage, that to experience the Blackness was a divine gift: a chance to experience the sublime presence of our beloved Primarch. Not something to be desired, nor wished for, but rather something to be understood and accepted as a part of the legacy left to us.
A legacy I must bear.
I wonder if I am strong enough.
My fear is to fail.
The arming room: my armour stands here, painted black, with the sigil of the Deathwatch engraved in silver and gold upon its left pauldron. My chapter's blood-red sigil remains on the opposite shoulder, in order – so the tech-priests tell me – to avoid angering the armour’s machine spirit. I wonder if the machine spirit feels as I do.
I am alone in the night. Will I ever return to see my home again? My brothers? And if I do, will I still be one of them?
Starlight shines through the small porthole which pierces the armoured hull of the watch-station: somewhere out there is Baal, my home – my brothers – lost in a sea of infinity and space.
The awful weight of the emptiness presses down upon my shoulders.
What is my reward?
Lights blaze to life, and the watch-station's voice begins to blare:
DEFENCE PROTOCOL ACTIVATED: DISTRESS SIGNAL DETECTED
The pale green light of the pict-screen displays the transmission: a flash priority alert to Sector Command, originating from the planet far below:
The Great Devourer has come.
There is no room for servitors or chapter-serfs on my watch-station; I arm myself – it is a tonic for the soul.
My salvation is my reward.
I strap on my weapons; they are already loaded and ready. The magnetic holster on my thigh-plate clicks dully as it latches onto my bolter. I examine my chainsword carefully, looking for any pits or blunt edges; there are none. There never are.
The thick, heavy door leading to the drop chamber has been retracted by the station, and through it I see the heavily-padded interior of the drop pod. The reinforced retention bars shine dully in the harsh light of the sodium lamps.
What is my craft?
I hold my helmet in my hands, its green eyepieces staring up at me, and I see my face reflected in the armoured glass. The Rage rises inside me and I beat it down, my flesh rebelling against my will. Slowly, shakily, I lift my helmet and slide it down over my head, connecting the seals, locking myself inside the armoured shell. The Rage subsides, and my flesh calms; I become like my armour: pure, steady, unblemished.
I descend on wings of smoke and flame.
I am an angel; a fury; a bulwark against the darkness. I am the sacrifice which holds the horrors of the night at bay.
I am the one that dies so that I can live forever in the Emperor’s grace.
What is my craft?
My craft is death.