In The Womb of the Warp
The astropath turned to the Captain. “Sir, we’ve received a message.”
“During warp travel? What does it read?”
“ ‘Mother welcomes you.' Sir, it bears Engineer Adams’ identification code.”
“Alert. Major equipment malfunction. Gellar field shutdown. Critical error. Gellar field shutdown.”
“Shut that damn alarm up!” Captain Soveroc’s voice was lost among the frightened yelling and desperate countermeasures. He turned to the madly twitching navigator. “Pull us out of warp travel! NOW!”
The Captain’s aide turned in his chair. “He can’t, sir! We need to do as protocol dictates and eliminate all psykers before they are possessed. Including our inquisitorial guest.”
Soveroc nodded, accessing the ship’s vox. “Attention crew! All psykers and Engineer Adams are to be killed on sight! All engineers, report to the Gellar field and fix it, on the double!”
At that moment, Soveroc was raised in the air. His back bent backwards, bones crunching together, blood seeping from his mouth. As he fell to the ground, his aide’s head exploded in a surge of blood. The navigator went up in a small warp storm, bolts arching off in the ship.
The astropath began to spasm, looking to the bridge entrance. “I fear…no evil…I fear no death…for the Emperor comes for...”His voice shifted to a deep echo. “ Nobody.” He let out a wail, his jaw cracking and splitting apart. A horrible cracking, like a tree falling, marked his death.
When it cleared, the Inquisitor stood in the doorway of the bridge. He stepped forward, his movement seeming stiff…unnatural. He turned his head, almost in a twitching movement. He opened his mouth, a small clicking sound coming from his throat. He then lowered his head, and when he raised it, he was smiling.
The former Inquisitor looked around at the slaughter, and then he laughed, screams haunting the background of his voice. “Your guest is gone. You are the Warp’s guests now.” When security rushed towards him, he held a hand out, fire stealing the air from their lungs as it burned.
I watched this all from my station on the bridge. I was powerless to stop it- I didn’t even have a gun. I began to tremble, terrified. I thought of my wife on Chosin, my son waiting for me to return.
Then, the Inquisitor looked to me, and his presence overcame my mind. I turned and began entering the override code for the ceramite blinders. They rose from the viewports, and the crew was exposed to the Warp.
Thunderstorms raged in the midst of infernos, beings of unimaginable power lurking just out of sight. I heard far-off explosions, and screams. Things-monsters- began to rush into the bridge, taking form in nightmarish shapes. I couldn’t tell if they were screaming or laughing. They were held back by the Inquisitor raising a hand. He looked to the crew.
“Welcome to our Mother. Welcome to the Warp.”
They took over the ship. Small battles were fought against them, but we knew we had already lost. Demons continuously poured into the ship, held back from the loyal, and set upon the resistance with unending numbers. Madness lurked around every corner, whether from the constant fear of attack or the Warp’s overpowering presence.
Soon enough, we were broken. The lucky ones were taken by the demons as host bodies, their minds torn asunder. The unlucky became slaves to the Inquisitor, keeping the ship working for some unknown purpose. Engineer Adams had been made the Inquisitor’s lieutenant. He was given the gift of mutation from exposure while repairing the ship, his legs morphed into a single worm-like appendage.
The Inquisitor began to transform. As time went on, he became more and more hellish. An unholy fire seemed to burn within him, glowing out from his veins. Great angelic wings sprouted from his back, and he wept blood. He was a monster. A god turned daemon.
Demons lurked in every corner, every nightmare and fear you didn’t know you had residing in them. Whether they were wraiths of a figure, mouths frozen in silent screams, or immense crimson berserkers, every move you made they wished to use an excuse for slaughter.
Our hope of reaching our destination and being freed from the warp were broken. We were lost inside the womb of Chaos.
The changes among the crew were subtle at first. Reluctance to serve lost, eyes morphing, teeth sharpening, thoughts of murder haunting minds. They became more evident as our ship continued to wander through the Warp. We began to grow talons, dark leathery wings among some. The taste and smell of blood sent us into uncontrollable rage and violence.
The Inquisitor sacrificed those who did not obey. We hated him at first. Now we saw how he protected us from the ignorant. Fed us knowledge. Controlled the savage demons that would destroy us. We who were not possessed thought ourselves unlucky at first. In truth, we were the luckiest of all.
The Corpse-Emperor was an illusion, a fairytale. The true Gods were ones of power. The Inquisitor told us that the greatest and most powerful of them all was the Blood God, the Lord of Skulls. Khorne. Soon, we would give him a great offering.
The Inquisitor tells us we are like a long-lost animal, the Phoenix, during its change. Before, we were foolish, serving the false one. We burned ourselves with the Warp’s great beauty, were reborn in its glory. Soon, we would rise from the ashes, and rain the Warp’s wrath on the foolish, he told us.
“Say goodbye to your Mother, children.”
We burst from her womb, the Inquisitor’s demon followers going into their hosts, taking over them, letting them taste the Warp’s greatness before their mind was obliterated.
A planet filled the viewport. Gunmetal gray dotted with the cities of lies, broken by swirling seas between. This world would fall, and it would be Khorne’s. Thoughts raced through my head of slaughter and blood-letting. This day would be glorious.
“We have risen, my children. It is time to give the gift of Imperial blood to our master.”
We cried out words of praise to Khrone, as our ship hurtled towards the soon-to-be fallen world.
The Inquisitor smiled.
I smiled with him, my teeth slashing open black lips, blood dripping to the console in front of me. An appetizer for our master.
1,056 words not including the title. Thanks for reading my first HOES story!