Short story, Imperials.
Criticism is welcome, but have mercy on me. This is my first tussle with 40k.
It was dark. It was cold. It was secret. It would not stop her.
The ground under her knees and hands was cold and dank. She had bumped her head against the ceiling so many times that she had lost count – one of the times, a protruding edge of the masonry above had struck her above the eye, cracking the skin and made her curl into a ball to contain herself, to keep herself from twitching and being heard. The voices filtered down to her as a murmur and the shifting feet made the sand fall down like the rain outside, making the illusion of sounds so similar to... Tears began rolling down her cheeks. It was not an unfamiliar kind of feeling, the tears often came unbidden to her eyes these days, blurring her vision and making her throat sore.
A moment of silence fell upon the place above her, she froze. A tear rolled down and fell from her cheek, the soft sound as it landed on the raw earth under her sounded like a gunshot in her ears, making her winch, convinced that she had been heard. Her heart pounded in her chest like drums of war, not much unlike... she bit her tongue not to cry out. The sharp pain brought her focus back. This was not the place or time for that. She had to get up there, she had to get to the vent, the narrow duct that would take her up there. It would take her to Him.
The only hive on Kelarius was the Oralum Hive, the seat of the Imperial governor. A single hive with the vast majority of power, power to determine the fate of the planet and to determine the individual fate of the billions calling Kelarius their home, both those inhabiting Oralum Hive and hundred of thousands living outside in the small villages and towns.
The planet was travelling through space in orbit around a warm orange sun near the edge of the Scarus sector, an insignificant speck on the edge of uncharted space. Kelarius was a low population world and a minor factor in all things at best, but they had managed to contribute several regiments to the Imperial Guard since coming into the Imperial fold – the military being one of the primary sources of income for many families. The Kelari 82nd had left to join the Fleet as they were hunting the xenos green-skin infestations that had fled from Jakart after Macharius' 4th army had conquered it. The marauding hordes of the ork menace kept appearing in the most inconvenient places, and they represented a constant threat to the main planet in Segmentum Obscurus, Hydraphur, a threat that had to be dealt with.
The main body of the 92nd fleet was anchored near Hydraphur for repairs and refitting while smaller groups were scouring the area for any fleeing groups of the defeated war boss’ army. upon the planets claimed by the Great Empire of Man, intent on destroying any settlement before they became a threat as serious as Jakart or Adrantis V had been. The Kelari 82nd had mustered on board the majestic Wings of Hope and had joined Triumph Gate and the rest of the dispatched ships of the group. The latest news to reach Kelarius was that the Lunar class cruisers Wings of Hope and Triumph Gate had anchored at high orbit over Tinarial in order to wipe out the pocket of green skins that had been seen there.
She crawled again. More voices and feet had added to the weight of sound and the amount of dust raining down on her as she crawled. In the darkness she had to feel her way around. She was not supposed to be here and the oppressive weight of the cathedral above her reminded her of the fact.
The Temple of the Emperors Word was the holiest place on the planet. Kept in a stasis field inside a box of glass lay a rolled up parchment, sealed with the Emperors own seal. It was said to have been written by the Emperor himself. Words from the God Emperor, being held in this shrine where only the elite of the planet were allowed to come.
She had been here once before in the company of Tinkerer Hassis. Tech Priests were a rarity, so the toy makers who could do minor repairs on servitors were highly sought after. Hassis had been a friend of her mothers since childhood and he had taken her with him on odd jobs to let her see the areas where she would otherwise never have had the chance to go. The Temple of the Emperors Word was one of those places. A cleaning servitor had broken a limb and Hassis was asked to repair it, and while he did, she had been looking around as much as she could under the scrutinizing stare of the priests. She had been taken under the wing of a kind soul, an old man who had walked with her and told her, with a fiery passion, of the Emperor and she had listened to him while her eyes had sucked in the sights and the sounds, letting the scents of incense fill her nose. Oh how she had listened, transfixed between the fervent heat of the tales and the beauty of the cold halls of master crafted ancient stones.
At one point, the old man had opened a door and let her inside. Her breath had been caught in her throat. She had visited the tempulum near her home every week for as long as she could remember, but the beauty and majesty of this place made her eyes well up with tears and she had sobbed quietly. Such beauty, and at the other end of the room, the golden statue was of such grandeur that she nearly fell to her knees. The golden figure and the ones surrounding it had a warm hue and she had felt the gaze of Him, the Emperor was looking at her and here, in the holiest place on the planet, far from Oralum Hive, did she feel His presence. She could feel the warmth radiating from the statue standing on the plinth and as she closed her eyes for a moment, she could imagine His eyes upon her.
A choir was singing somewhere, a plainsong hymn to the God-Emperor, the sound washing around the room like the distant echoes of the choir surrounding the Golden Throne itself, like a faint echo of the beauty before her. It was as though a piece of Holy Terra itself had made it’s way here, just for this brief moment for her to be blessed with His attention however brief.
The old man let her walk the aisle, step by step letting her walk closer to the statue, and to the golden casket sitting between the perfect golden feet. She could not look at the statues face. She averted her eyes, saw in stead the niches surrounding it, each of them holding a no less magnificent statue of great men in armour that encased them and only left the faces bared. They had stood in silence. No words was needed to describe the feelings. No words could describe it. Just standing silently provided all the comfort one could wish for.
The silence had only been broken when she had been called to join Hassis again – he had to leave and she had to go with him. When she had turned to thank the old man, he had disappeared.
She had never forgotten the old man, and she had never forgotten the grand hall with the golden statues. Prayers in the tempulum had just never been the same. The imagery seemed dull and the songs were off key and it almost made her cry in pain from how it was so unlike the grand Temple of the Emperors Word. Why would the Emperor listen to any prayer from a place like this? Why would He even pay attention to what was going on down here when there was such a magnificent temple so close to it? If there was any chance that her prayers be heard, she would have to go there, a pilgrimage to the most magnificent place of worship she had ever laid her eyes upon. She had to get back to the place where she did not belong, for only there would the Emperor, beloved by all, hear her prayers.
It was desperation that had brought her down to the tunnel. It was desperation for her prayers to be heard that made her crawl like a rat under the floor of the beautiful tempulum to reach the air duct. The words of an insane woman was all the insurance she had that the duct even existed – an air duct with an unbolted grill, the opening being right behind one of the golden statues in the niches surrounding the likeness of the God-Emperor, a way to get fresh air into the temples main hall, but she was desperate and took the risk... she did not know what else to do.
Their first deployment, their first chance of combat.
It had been a fairly uneventful flight, and short too. Not even a week had passed before they reclaimed their rightful place in the realm of reality from their passage through the chaotic Warp that had brought them an unfathomable distance from Kelarius. The time on board had been spent on drills, but every night, every free moment, the fresh recruits from the Kelari 82nd had gone exploring.
The ship with the name Wings of Hope was like a hive in its massive size, decks having room for the entire regiment and Kelari 24th Heavy Armour and still having room to spare. Few people in the new regiment had ever left Kelarius, so the change was astonishing – it was a brand new world to explore, a new way of life beyond just being part of the Imperial Guard. The grandeur of the human race could not be questioned, and simply being aboard the ship bolstered the morale of every new recruit.
The sister ship Triumph Gate hung impossibly in the void by its side – so far away and yet close enough that they could appreciate the size of it, knowing that they were aboard a vessel of no less size. The view ports were crowded right up until the point when the shutters slid closed, blocking the sight in preparation for the jump into the place where no human aside from the Navigator ought to see what would surround the ship.
Wings of Hope had shuddered and groaned as if it was being torn apart and the silence that followed was even worse. It was as if the entire galaxy was holding its breath for those heartbeats – the longest moments trooper Gantir had ever experienced. For someone who had never experienced warp travel before, this was even more terrifying than entering into the Sea of Souls. Gantir held onto the contents of his bowels, but he was one among few in the brand new regiment. A stink began spreading on the deck just as sounds returned and the powerful engines regained their voice with a roar and a thump as pistons started working again and made the steel plates vibrate under their feet. He thought back to boot camp and wondered with a smug grin on his lips if they should just put fresh recruits right onto a flight through the Warp. Any who didn’t go mad or soil themselves could handle just about anything.
The wailing sirens and red swirling lights alerted them in its own deafening way and like the well drilled rookies they were, they lined up and boarded the vessels that would bring them to the surface of Tinarial. It was a low technology planet, the people living there were little more than feral tribes, and as such they had no way to defend against the marauding green skins that had laid waste to half a continent before word even reached the civilized Imperial worlds. Now it was an entire continent – one of the three on the planet – and the Imperial Guard had landed and made camp on the coast of the largest landmass. The air was thick with the stink of promethium and soot, the sheer number of drops having left the ground scorched. There was no intentions to make the site permanent – it was but a small pocket of orks having managed to flee, but now their run was over. The newly founded Kelari 82nd would see to that with the support of Kelari 24th Heavy Armour.
They numbered thousands. The combat starving fresh recruits from Kelarius was eager to get into the fray, their cap badges gleaming in the pale light of the sun as their commanders got their briefings.
Trooper Gantir, Kelari 82nd, Second platoon, Zeta Squad, was standing at ease while Lieutenant Garth briefed the sergeants. His own sergeant, Nullen, was listening attentively while the rest of the squads, both his own and the four other squads present, were standing as still as their nerves would allow and it was not until the sergeants walked to their squads that they calmed. Focus returned and every mans face was an expression of eagerness and hunger for action. sergeant Nullen had been drafted to Kelari 81st a year before and he had the steady calm of experience that rubbed off on his men. As he spoke, the squad breathed deeper and their uneasy stance became more solid as they received their orders. Trooper Gantir admired the man. A single year in the Imperial Guard had changed him from a nervous recruit like the squad and to a veteran who would lead them.
“Any questions?” the sergeants voice was young yet powerful, carrying the authority of a battlefield veteran despite his age.
No questions, just eager comments where each man wanted to kill something green, each one in turn wanting to join the battle more than the comrade beside him.
The comments had put a smile on the sergeants lips, but he had shook his head and marched them down to the boats and they boarded their vessel along with the four other squads. They did not have a long journey ahead of them and she sea was still. The mood was high and someone began singing a crude drinking song, making the rest of the men laugh and join in. They were warriors, warriors going to war. The lieutenant voxed in and the boat set out to join the fleet of vessels like it, the mass of their bodies stretching as far as one could see from the small round windows where the troopers flocked to marvel at the sight.
Trooper Gantirs thoughts returned to his home, to his family and a vacation they had had six years before. Their mother had taken them to the lake and they had sailed in a small boat, felt the thin plastek shell being cradled in the waves. This was a bit like that time, only now he was surrounded by other soldiers like himself. He had a las rifle in his hands and he was in a uniform, and when they landed, he would be entering the war for real. They had been at war ever since they left their home on Kelarius, but it was not until now that it really dawned on any of them. Only now could they smell the ozone and smoke on the air.
Only now it was real.
The ramp slammed down and they poured out. They were not the first by far, but nor were they the last. Artillery shells from the Kelari 24th Heavy Armour roared like thunder and something else, a deep note that reverberated through their chests. The Zeta squad ran forwards, las rifles in hands and a shout in their throats, they followed sergeant Nullens lead and found themselves part of a much larger group that kept a steady pace east.
There was a dry, cracking sound and it was not until trooper Gantir saw his sergeants face that he realised that this was it. It was not just a forest across the ridge. At their mark, the entire second platoon charged over the hillside and it took all the skill of every single sergeant to keep their troopers in line.
The orks were huge. Arms as thick as barrels and chests big enough to fit, the creatures were green of skin and with hands like spades. Massive jaws with even larger fangs roared at them from across the killing field, they were already busy slaughtering the first line of troopers having charged over the top of the low hills.
Gantir wanted to scream. Right next to him, Cere actually screamed.
The squad was herded to the side, they split north and as they made way, the heavy tanks of the Kelari 24th Heavy Armour thundered past them. Like fortresses of invulnerable armour and death, they raced down the hillside towards the stinking enemy that only deserved obliteration and behind them the rookie squads rallied and charged forwards in their illusion of invulnerability. Zeta squad was right in the middle of the charging mass of the Imperial Guard Infantry.
The grate was there. Light streamed down on her face and the smells of incense and fresh air became more intense. The plainsong of the choir started just as she reached out to touch the weaved mesh. The tunnel was tighter and she had to wiggle now to keep moving. First she wiggled as far as she could. Her fingers closed around the light grill and as quiet as she could, she began pushing it upwards. She could not believe her luck when the weaved grate lifted smoothly and easily. It was light as plastek and warm to the touch. She nudged it further up, as far as she could reach and when the choir began singing praise to the God Emperor, she slid it to the side. The hole was easily large enough for her to get out of, the only problem was that the tunnel she was in was joined to the duct at a sharp angel, and it was narrow... so very narrow. Determined and desperate, she begun wiggling towards the end of the tunnel, squeezing herself and taking deep breaths, then emptying her lungs to try and get through, but the tunnel was so narrow...
She felt her body tiring, her muscles ached, but with a push that made her head feel like it was bursting, did she get one of her shoulders through and she could reach up through the hole and touch the heel of the golden statue before her. The plainsong washed down over her and as she moved her head a bit, she could see between the legs of the statue and up on the golden depiction of the Emperor – beloved by all – who stood up there, so close and yet so far. She had come this far, and there was no way she could get up through the hole without drawing attention to herself as long as the sermon was being held in the tempulum, so she pulled her arm back down and closed her eyes to rest.. just for a short while.
Mud and blood sprayed into the air from the treads of the roaring Leman Russ pattern battle tanks of the Kelari 24th Heavy Armour. Zeta squad was running right behind the thundering promise of death. Their spirits were high and they charged in on the flanks of the tanks, las rifles blazing and screaming their defiance in the face of the green horrors that represented everything evil in the Galaxy of Man. Hatred fuelled them and they ran fearlessly into the fray.
sergeant Nullen led them to their first position and the squad cheered as they saw a green skinned giant cut down by their fusillade. Trooper Killir ran forwards, his bayonet in hand he wanted a trophy, but the cheering turned to screams of horror as the massive creature punched its fist straight through Killirs chest and out through the soldiers back. Terrified, the squad opened fire again while the beast with a jaw wide enough to bite over a Hydra barrel got to his feet and tried to shake the dead trooper from his hand while grinning, showing his dripping fangs. Shots from the las rifles did not even make it pause as it turned towards the squad, roaring so spittle and bad breath washed across the short distance to the squad, nearly knocking them over. Trooper Steff decided that enough was enough and tossing his las rifle on the ground, he turned and fled as fast as his legs could carry while screaming like a mad. He did not even make it ten steps before he was knocked head over heels. His head exploded in a puff of red and a man in a long black coat and a cap with a golden double headed eagle stepped over the toppled remains of Steff. In his hand was a smoking bolt pistol and he pointed at the enemy lines that was crawling with activity.
“Only in death does service end!” the commissar coarse voice was raised and he did not look like he was in a mood to argue, and his pressence was enough reason for the squad turn back to the fight. Las rifles raised, they all found themselves firing wildly at the stinking beast of an ork who was charging, axe raised and bellowing a battle cry in its own foul language. Rallied by anger, by the Commissar and by the urge to survive, they poured beams of coherent light into the foul beast in a cacophony of cracks until half their clips blinked empty.
When the beast finally fell it made the ground tremble underneath its immense weight. The commissar was gone, but sergeant Nullen was there and they rallied to him as he moved on, once more leading his squad into the thick of battle.
Blood and mud rained down on the battlefield and minutes felt like hours while the rookies of the Kelari 82nd got their baptism of fire. While taking cover in a crater, trooper Gantir watched in stunned horror how a small creature bolted out of nowhere and in under a Leman Russ tank surrounded by troopers. A dull crumpling sound was followed by an ear-splitting blast and a blinding fireball as the tank exploded, creating an all new crater. All that remained of his fellow Kelarius born troopers was a rain of bone splinters that rattled off their helmets. The blood of those who were once comrades now merely stained his once pristine uniform.
Gantir groaned and shivered. He was on the edge of throwing down his weapon and run, but the sound of a coarse voice somewhere behind them brought back the image of Steffs headless corpse toppling over. There was only one way; forwards – to death or victory.
Victory. This was nothing like they had been told. This was not a ragtag gang of fleeing green skins. This was a very deadly threat with enough weapons to match the Imperial forces. Gantir winched as he heard the spluttering sound of aircrafts coming in for attack runs – he knew for sure that their side had not brought any kind of airborne support... he uttered a curse under his breath and kept firing at the oncoming tide – there was little else to do at this point. The sharp cracking sound of his las rifle sounded like a dry stick snapping with every shot he fired, an irregular rhythm in the middle of the chaos of the first battlefield.
The sermon had ended, the chants faded away to a faint murmur in a different part of the tempulum and she was once more alone. One of her arms were pinned down by her side, the other was free enough for her to move. Breathing deep she felt her entire body tingling and her feet had long since gone numb. She did not know how long she had slept, but the scented smoke from the incense burners was soft, caressing the roof her mouth with every breath, gently and soothing.
She was thirsty, the dusty crawl through the tunnel had done that, but behind her in the tunnel, there was a flask full of water. Her arm down the tunnel reached and easily found the flask. Its lid was screwed tight and she started rocking back and forth, trying to loosen her position to make room enough that she could slip it up to her free arm and her head, but the angle was bad and she had no room for her elbow... there was a small gap between her neck and the shoulder still to be worked out of the tunnel, but there was no way she could get the flask out much less get to the content inside. She had not come this far to quit just because of thirst, so she let go of the flask, to worry about it later, and begun working again. She rocked back and forth and pushed her shoulder against the sides of the tunnels opening. Her lean muscles bunched up and then relaxed again. She rocked and pulled and reached for the walls of the air duct, searching for anything to hold on to, anything to help her and give her leverage, but al the found was the smooth tiled walls of the duct. Frowning she reached for the edge, but the floor was without even the tiniest texture and all she could reach was the golden heel of the statue she was hidden behind. A dull ache of panic was building in her chest and she reached up as far as she could, her hand feeling the warm gold, her fingertips struggling for purchase, any protruding part, any bolt, nut, joint.
Her nails dug for purchase, scraping and slipping, cracked and hurt as they split in her frantic struggle, blood making her already struggling grip slip and making the gold utterly impossible to hold on to for any kind of purchase. Nothing was within reach, nothing was available for her to grab on to. Her hand grasped around the edge of the air duct and found something. Grasping it hard, she felt it slid towards her – the gilded grate. Her heart racing she grasped for the weaved pattern of warm metal and pulled it towards the hole. Her arm strained at the odd angle as she worked, but she got it edged into her grasp and after several minutes of pulling and nudging she got the light grill moved back into place, the soft clicking sound as it snapped into place made her smile. She took a deep breath and grasped the weave from below and tugged as hard as she could.
It was impossible to tell what stung the worst; the sharp stinging cut across the face, or her broken hope when the decorative cover bent and snapped under the sudden weight. It rattled down with a clanking sound, hitting against the sides of the air duct all the way to the bottom. She just stared after it, suddenly shivering all over her body, cold sweat running down her trapped chest and legs
She cried silently for so long that her eyes became sore. She rubbed them with her free hand and breathed deep of the cold air. She had failed. She had come this far with the wish to pray to the God-Emperor, to touch the foot of the golden statue of Him with the desperate hope that her prayers would be heard by him. But she was stuck, unable to move with one arm and shoulder outside and the other and the rest of her body inside the tunnel. She could feel the hand on her trapped arm felt like she was wearing thick gloves, her fingers were swollen and there was no telling about the rest of her body. She was effectively locked in place, halfway into the air duct that would have been the entrance to the Temple of the Emperors Word. She leaned as far to the side as she could, and between the legs of the statue in front of her, she saw the golden beautiful creation standing on the plinth. It made her eyes well up again, seeing it for the second time, but this time it was bitter tears of frustration. She could not reach it.
Silently crying, she reached out and touched the only thing within her reach, the heel of the golden statue before her. It was not the Emperor that was depicted in the gold, but behind her closed eyelids, she imagined that she was touching the foot of the mighty statue of Him and in silence she prayed, her voiceless prayer to the protector of mankind asked not for riches or prosperity, not even for her own release from the death trap she had willingly crawled into. In her prayer, she asked only that He would hold his hand over her brother in the war, that He would keep him safe from orks and all other dangers that might be in his way.
On the battlefields of Tinarial, the terrifying green skinned enemy was not yielding an inch. It seemed that for every one of the sickening green stink-heads that was slain, enough men of the Imperial Guard were killed in the most horrible way, ensuring the slowly grinding movements of the advance was stalled.
At some point in the melee, Zeta squad had faced off with a mighty beast of war. A creature larger than the tanks they had brought, a creature with so thick hide that no las gun even bothered it, a creature bearing not only war drums on its back that made the orks rally to it, but also a nest for green skins with huge laughing maws and weapons that reaped life like crops before the scythes of a harvesting servitor.
Trooper Gantir suddenly found himself lying on his back. He vaguely remembered short glimpses of the leg of the war beast coming down on him. He remembered the screams of his comrades and the roar of defiance of his sergeant. He remembered something, but now everything was fading away. The Galaxy never forgave, that was what he had been taught during training. Only the strong survive, and humankind are the strongest.
It seemed so vague, so distant.
The sounds were duller now. The smell of ash and gunpowder mixed with that of blood and sweat – the latter two were present all around him. This place was as silent as a battlefield could be. The War beast had moved on with its horde of trampling and madly screaming huge warrior brutes. Not even the sighs of the dying were heard any more.
Gantir looked towards the darkening sky. The first sky he had seen away from Kelarius. It was the same sky, but it seemed so different. It was slowly going from bright blue to deep purple while the pale sun was setting in the north. A different sun, a different sky, so far from home. Gantir looked up at the sky with an almost peaceful stare. Meteorites streaked through the earth. It could be anything.. it might even be a ship in orbit breaking up and raining down on the planet. It would not matter, not for him. His part in the grand crusade was over almost before it had begun.
His only regret was that he would never see his mother and sister again. His poor sister, Jilania – he had signed up for her. Born without a voice the family had needed all the help they could get. Gantir had joined the Imperial Guard in the hope that one day they would have enough for a bionic implant that would give his sister a voice. It was all he had ever wanted, but now it was too late. His last thoughts was the memory of his mother waving at him as he departed, her back was straight and her head held high while Jilania was crying openly as she just stood there, watching him go. The toymaker Hassis was there as well, his hand resting on his mothers shoulder, reassuring her
Trooper Gantir managed a warm smile. They would be okay. His mother had a good job and his sister was sharp witted. Despite her disability, she would get far. He was sure of it. She was headstrong and once she set a goal, nothing could stop her. He almost laughed, but the effort caused him to cough. Painfully his lungs contracted, sending bloody phlegm into his mouth with the taste of iron.
A lazy tendril of blood snaked out from the corner of his mouth while his eyes closed as the atmosphere lit up with the rain of fire, metal falling towards the ground and marking the end in the most proper way for a trooper of the Imperial Guard, Kelari 82nd, Second platoon, Zeta squad.
Error. Something was wrong, the servitor had registered an anormality and the serf went to investigate. A sudden rush of activity brought brand new sounds into the Temple of the Emperors word. Strange sounds that should rightfully never be heard in a place of worship. They came rushing from all sides, some to look, but few to actually do something that would help the situation. Frantic work centred around a single point in the grand tempulum. Aside from during sermon, this was the first time in several decades that such a number of people found their way into the view of the golden statues. Oh such a fate. It was not until the Tempulum Lord, ordained by the Adeptus Ministorum, arrived that a hush fell again. He spoke with calm authority and the activity that followed was focussed, the raised voices having subsided to make room for a silence to let important words be heard clearly.
When trooper Gantir woke, it was in the infirmary. He had no memory of what had happened, and it was only after several attempts that he heard what had happened.
It was a miracle, they said. The Emperors angels had come to their rescue. Clad in white and black, they had come crashing down into the heart of the battles. Huge burning metal eggs of destruction had breached the atmosphere like comets and they had strolled out, blazing death and torn a bloody swathe through enemy lands.
The battle had been turned, the fledgling troopers of the Kelari 82nd rallying once more, this time to the Emperors chosen warriors. Each of the Space Marines had been a shining beacon of hope and as lost as all had seemed before, now every man of the Imperial Guard threw themselves at the Emperor-forsaken and deeply hated orks once more.
The chapter of Black Templars had led the way and the continent had been taken with a minimum of casualties, the presence of the Adeptus Astartes an inspiration to every trooper, making them perform like nobody had ever thought possible, each Guardsman pressing himself beyond what limits he thought he had, pushing them onwards with renewed courage burning inside them.
Gantir listened and he learned that only a few pockets of green skinned resistance remained, the surviving green skinned cowards fleeing extermination where they could, their dead littering the path from coast to coast.
As his mind drifted away again, his heart was lightened. He would come home. He would see his family again. He would see his baby sister Jilania again. Everything would be okay.
“Her name is Jilania Gantir, registered to sub sector G-6, sixty two.” The voice belonged to one of the serfs looking down at the sad remains of the young girl. In his hand was the data slate that told what little was known about her. She had been found dead, trapped and unable to call for help. The cleaning servitor stood dormant off to the side. Its sensors had registered something unusual by the foot of one of the statues in the niches surrounding the statue of the God-Emperor and its systems had alerted the tempulum servants. They had found an arm reaching out of the air duct, the hand limp by the heel of the statue before it. It had taken a lot of work to cut the body free and pull it out from the tunnel. An old man stood at the edge of the group, watching with sadness in his eyes. He remembered the girl, remembered her astonishment as he had shown her the way around the tempulum. He could easily imagine why she had returned, and the pain was almost too much for his old heart – one of the original parts of him. Hiding his face in the hood of his robe, he turned and walked away, he could not bear to see the young girls face, all he saw was the blood smeared heel of the golden statue of Rogal Dorn where the girl had grasped it with her torn fingers.
Looking up at the central statue of the Emperor himself, he spoke a mumbled prayer for Him to look after the girls soul. All he could do was hoping that He would hear his prayer in a small and insignificant temple like this.
If you can whine about it, you haven't been hurt enough.
Last edited by Pusser; 01-13-12 at 03:13 PM.
Reason: Spellus Erronicus correctus, Asterisk addendum