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post #23 of (permalink) Old 03-18-11, 02:38 AM
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Even tougher competition than last time- wow.
And my entry:
Should be Expected
1015 words
Heresy Online Expeditious Stories Contest 3: Betrayal

There was no use, really.

Even as Necler looked at the vista that his squad had captured- now a rotting garden, a perfect symbol of the Grandfather’s embrace- he felt the emptiness within him iron out some more room.

There was no use.

Decay, perhaps, and death, and rebirth. They accelerated that cycle- they brought ruin to the world, just as the world brought ruin to them. They were the Guardians of Death, but they no longer had the ability to die, or at least not as easily as normal people. They were the chosen of Nurgle, but they never chose that path themselves. They were the plague of the stars, but they could be nothing else, except a plague.

There was no use.

There was no escape. There was no hope. There was no goal. There was only an endless, rotting ground below an endless, rotting sky, on which Necler stood.

He wanted to howl out his worthlessness, but there was no use in that either.

He stood now with twelve others, as well as Ancient Hafrav. They had brought this city to its knees, but they hadn’t truly done anything. Nothing had changed. Perhaps a few hundred thousand humans would now know the Grandfather, but in the end entropy would have brought them there anyhow. Perhaps they would be blessed with even more diseases, but in the end they were but specks in an uncaring universe.

“There is no use.”

Behind him, a small breath of wind alerted Necler that Hafrav was trying to nod.

“I am glad you have seen it too.”

Necler sighed. “Who left his speakers on? Reghaf and Uol, escort Hafrav to the holding cages.”

The two Plague Marines moved to do so, their own rotten smell adding to that of Hafrav’s fly attractor. It was perhaps beautiful, and perhaps one of the Emperor’s Children would have appreciated it, but to him there was no use.

There was no use in the screams that Reghaf was emitting from his mouth. Necler would have told him to stop, but there was no use in that either. There was no use in the gurgling sounds Uof was making either, even if they were new. The Grandfather would not approve either- innovation was after all a matter of making uselessness seem like use. There was no use in the blunt impacts that resounded behind Necler, nor was there use in the buzzing that was now blanketing the terrain behind the other noises. In fact, there was no use in sound whatsoever, as it was distracting and even annoying.

The sounds only got louder.

Screeching, bouncing, popping and- most of all- screaming filled the air, and Necler adjusted his backpack and took a step forwards. The stair that led down was easily large enough for an Astartes to pass, so he did.

The mountains, no longer truly solid, collapsed behind him as he strode forth. The city wasn’t his destination but merely his direction: he didn’t have a destination. Having a destination would imply a point, which could imply a use.

Something dripped behind him, either drool or blood. He didn’t care.

The round object impacting his back distracted him from walking, which was of course completely irrelevant. In fact, nothing was relevant.

Coming to this conclusion, Necler took the liberty of somersaulting, as after all he felt like it and there was no greater use. Seconds later, he punched himself for the sheer stupidity of attempting to somersault in power armor.

By that time, he was rolling down the stairs at a significant velocity.

The punch served to orient the Plague Marine, and as such he slowly lifted himself back up on a stone landing. It was not as easy as he had expected it to be, and Necler could comfort himself only by remembering there was no use to comfort.

The pointlessness of it all was getting rather tiring.

“Blood for the Blood God!”

The sounds of new blunt impacts awoke Necler from half-sleep. They were coming from above, probably from where his squad was departing. He wouldn’t come with them, of course: there was no use, and he didn’t feel any need to follow his brothers.

Turning around, Necler was mildly surprised to see Ancient Hafrav marching towards him with six skulls in each of his fly attractors.

“Um… why aren’t you on the ship?”

“There was no use to being there. There is a use, though, in getting your skull! It’d mess up the symmetry, though.”

Necler shook his head, trying to make sure he wasn’t imagining things. Of course, in the Warp imagination and reality were closely linked, but this was insane.

“Will you join me?”

“There would be no use in that.”

“Except skulls.”

Necler shook his head. “Hafrav, skulls are not a use. Skulls are an impediment. All will rot.”

Hafrav raised an arm. “You are boring me.”

The source of the blunt impact sounds quickly became clear to Necler, who was now pressed to a wall of the staircase.

“Will you serve Khorne?”

“Never. He is a fool.”

Hafrav seemed about to add something, but then the Dreadnought turned his head upwards.

“Fine. I'll kill you later. The Imperials are coming, and I don’t want to fight them yet.”

Suddenly Necler found himself airborne.

From above, he could clearly see the trails of the landing craft. He could also see Hafrav’s bulk moving towards his own craft, some small, stolen lander that he had never found the name of, stepping on a few small animals along the way and throwing their skulls into his attractors. Simultaneously, he could easily see the mountains shake from the air currents- why had Nurgle made them so gelatinous?

The landing was easy. Climbing out of the crater, on the other hand, was quite difficult.

Necler again looked at the vista his squad had captured- his dead squad, now. It was a rotting garden, a perfect symbol of his total failure. The emptiness within him remained, though now it had spread outside him as well.

There was no use, really.

Renegades Saga contributions
The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.
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