New masters (1100 words)
Within the ramshackle shelter of a crashed Rhino, hacking coughs draw only inquistive mammals, for thinking souls have forgotten this place.
The coughing fits starts again, this time with more vigour, ended by a curse and words of a language not uttered for generations. I wonder why it takes so long to recognise the voice as my own?:
"You gave me everything...my strength...my honour...my very life.
"I would have ended upon those hell-blackened worlds, had it not been for the pride you showed in us.
"Of course, you did not know it; how could you?
"Merely one day amongst thousands, one solitary glance and half-smile along our ranks. Yet I remembered every second, every nuance, every hair that fell out of place as the hot winds swept across the plain of blasted vehicles."
Remembrance grabs hold of me and refuses to let go: in the fevered dreams brought about by infection, my body shudders with the impacts of injuries long-healed.
Of course, the last weapon sealed my fate just as you hoped it would.
But the apothecaries and He had done their jobs too well and I survived.
Even as green film covered my eyes and I saw my comrades melt, I somehow prevailed.
Finding a shuttle, I left that place of treachery and dishonour, hiding where I must, taking the heads of your sons wherever possible.
'Your sons' I remind myself...No longer 'my brothers-in-arms'...For which Astartes worthy of the name could refer to such decrepit beasts as their 'equal'? Not I.
Spitting further gore upon the black ground, I have welcomed the coming dark for this past decade. There were many who tried to put a stop to me and an equal number who I sought out as potentially suitable opponents, yet I found none worth the trouble.
Memories long submerged bob back to the surface: a smile or a handshake from the best warriors anyone could ever have beside them. True friends now lost to a time mired in heresy and slaughter that nobody else dared to recall.
When I revisit such so-called 'glories', my hands still tremble with the phantom-memory of my discarded bolter's recoil. Or is it from the poisoned bone-ague which slowly seeps like thick oil through my frame; your parting gift to the ones you set adrift?
As though trying to exorcise it in favour of duty, I find my sole happy moment even as my voice burbles with phlegm rising from a dissolving lung:
"Burnt promethium filled the air, yet failed to blot out the stench of rotted corpses, fat with flies.
"The auguries had proven sound: a hard victory, but worthwhile.
"Too many comrades adorn the enemy's murder-pikes, yet did you even care?
"No! You viewed them as merely more mouldering carcasses.
"I could have lost all respect there and then, had it not been for the passion in your eyes.
"You believed in something greater and carried the whole Army with you.
"They did not see your upbringing amongst the savages...could not know your hardships...yet it did not matter. All such things were cast aside in favour of greater achievements. Thus shall it be again.
"They once called me Lucas Veronal...you gave me a more morbid title. And I shall end you.
"You are no 'demi-god', no 'Primarch', just another weak-willed possessed who was found wanting.
"Even if this virus claims my soul, I swear you shall fall, never to rise again."
I pick up my last weapon; the one which has remained with me all my Legion-life.
Even when covered in entrails, there has always been one section or another where the bare silver etching has shone through...the only true companion I have ever known.
Had I cared for such niceties, I would have told myself not to notice my bloody spittle covering the blade; unconscious drool from a mouth that now holds too many teeth to properly close...yet another 'gift' bestowed upon me by your cowardly chem-munitions.
It takes me three attempts to stand. Had it not been for the Rhino chassis, I might never have regained my footing. Even though you cast Him and I aside an age ago, I thank The Emperor for small mercies. When it comes to thoughts of loyalty, you are simultaneously in the furthest recesses of my mind yet blazing bright in the forefront of my psyche.
The blade sings once again in my hands..a shriek of vengeance that was once my army's call at the coming of the dusk.
My grip wavers as strength starts to flee, yet I am thankful that it finds purchase before all is lost.
This shall not be easy, but you taught me resilience in favour of every other trait, so let us see how much I have learnt at your feet.
Sparks and ceramite splinters fly as I gouge out the oath of moment below my hearts; etched at the commencement of our first campaign.
As I bring up it's tip to my forehead, I can barely hear myself think above the weapon's screaming, but I promise aloud:
"You may have signed my death-sentence, yet my reckoning shall begin again soon, for you are not the only patriarch in the cosmos. My saviour, Mal..."
Guided by unseen hands, explorators find a corpse in a deserted town upon an abandoned world:
"The creature was found alone, injuries consistent with the chainsword still clutched in it's...what we are calling 'hands'. From the position of the body and lack of other footprints, it was self-inflicted."
"Why attach it's helmet if it wanted suicide, Medicae?"
"Who cares Captain? It's one less Chaos-lover to worry about."
As his companions turn away, the Captain reaches out an unthinking hand for the silvered blade, somehow pristine despite the ravages of time and bodily decay.
His urgency for theft lends him extra strength and he shatters claws and fingers. Breaking open the dead fist sets off a chain-reaction throughout the kneeling corpse which collapses into dust; a fate that should have befallen it centuries ago.
Yet he pays this no mind and attaches the weapon to his belt, failing to notice the soft red glow from the grip's sensor.
Even bound as I am, caught between the material and ethereal planes and held by another, I curse your name and howl into the space between the stars.
I have you to thank and -one day- names shall be carved into your very chest so that you can never forget the fallen.
Life, plague, even death: all were necessary, yet ultimately proved to be only minor hindrances to my apotheosis. My new servitude.
Urgently trying to trace any living relatives of Private Sam/Samuel "Jock" Wilson (Black Watch, No. 6 Commando, UK Army Service ID 2764432, died 10.06.44). Any info/suggestions gratefully received.
"Mockles! Pent on silpen tree, blockards three a-feening. Mockles! What silps came to thee, in thy pantry, dreaming?"
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Last edited by andygorn; 11-01-15 at 09:11 AM.