Heresy Fiction Comp 2012: Blood and Sweat- 40k
Blood and Sweat
Eruptions of noise echoed down the long corridors of the Imperial Cruiser. The far off sound of gunfire screams and death rang down the metal featureless walkways of the ships interior. The corridors were empty of any life, as silent as the grave. For that was what the Imperial Cruiser ‘Faithful’ had become. A grave for her passengers.
The total deathly silence in the corridors was suddenly shattered by the sound of pounding feet drawing nearer. Bursting around the corner, his booted feet hammering on the metal floors, ran a lone figure. Blood ran down his face from a deep ugly gash in his forehead, a cut running across his cheek bled down into his gasping mouth. His right eye was nothing but a hole in his head, blood running from the wound, and his left eye was bloodshot, rolling in the socket. His old, weathered and battered flak armour was ripped wide open in one side, the simple cloth shirt beneath soaked in blood from the gash beneath it. One of the man’s arms was bent at an impossible angle, blood flowing freely, while the other hand clutched a battered laspistol like it meant the world, the paint chipped away to show the metal beneath and the barrel dented in several places.
The figure ran blindly on, his breath coming in ragged gasps, his eye was roaming blindly, looking everywhere yet seeing nothing, sweat mixing with the blood flowing from his head wound. His legs kept pumping hard and he kept running onwards down the long corridor, his boots landing on the metal floor with ringing clangs that echoed down the corridor. At the sound of heavy footsteps approaching the man glanced over his shoulder, terror flashing across his bloody covered, sweaty face. His pace increased in his terror, but the pace proved too much for his battered, bloody body and his tired, aching legs.
In an instant his legs gave way beneath him and he painfully buckled to the cold floor. He hit the ground hard, desperately moving his good hand to try and slow his fall. A painful crack echoed down the corridor as his hand slipped, gave way and bent backwards at a painful angle. The battered, chipped laspistol flew out of his bloody, sweaty grasp, spinning off down the corridor, coming to a spinning rest a few metres before the collapsed figure.
Pain lanced through the man’s body and he cried out as his arm collapsed beneath him and his body landed upon the hard metal floor beneath him. His badly broken arm contacted with the metal and a loud snap cut through the approaching footsteps. The broken bone snapped again and pushed its way outwards, cutting through the man’s flesh and protruding from his upper arm.
The man screamed as blood started to flow from this fresh wound. All the time the heavy footsteps drew ever closer, growing louder as they approached.
The man went to clamber up to his feet but his leg proved to be in worse shape than he thought and he fell to the floor once again. The man looked nervously over his shoulder, scanning for the approaching figure before scrambling along the floor, his bloody fingers reaching desperately for the handle of the laspistol. Finally reaching it he grabbed at it, his hand slick with blood he grasped the handle and clenched it tight, his knuckles turning white with the intensity of his grasp. Somehow rising to his feet he supported himself against the wall with his bruised shoulder and slowly edged his way down the corridor, leaning against the wall to support him. Turning to face the way he had come the man blindly fired his pistol off towards the approaching footsteps. He roared with pain and anger as the flashes of light shot off down the corridor.
The footsteps paused and you could almost see the approaching stranger stopping, unsure how to respond. The badly wounded figure turned once more and staggered down the corridor, wincing with each step as his leg pressed down on the floor and it erupted with pain. Concentrating all his willpower on carrying on the man never heard the footsteps restart, the footsteps falling heavier and faster, drawing closer.
The man managed to reach the imposing metal doors that stood at the end of the featureless corridor before the footsteps were upon him. Desperately he fumbled with the keypad, his blood running other the keys as he pressed in the code he prayed would open the door and bring him safety from his follower. Finally the keypad flashed green and the door clicked open. The man bodily ran into the door, pushing it open and collapsing on to the floor on the other side. He kicked out with his foot and almost allowed himself a smile as the heavy metal door slammed back into place. The solid door was a barrier between him and his follower. He knew it would hold, at least for now.
The man turned to take in his new surroundings for the first time. The new room he had entered was relatively small and almost unfurnished. Around the walls of the room were racks and lockers, each marked with names and numbers. Low metal benches sat in a square in the centre of the room. The door he had just come through was the only way in or out of the room.
He had stumbled upon one of the armouries that armed the Navy personnel in this area. He shouted out with joy and staggered over to the nearest locker. Pulling open the metal door tears began to run down his cheeks, the salty water mixing with the sweat and blood already running down his face.
Reaching out, disbelieving and not yet sure if what he saw before him was real or just a figment of his fevered imagination, the laspistol clattered to the floor beside him as he reached out.
But sure enough his shaking, bloody fingers made contact with the casing of the object and the man closed his eyes as his hand ran over the shotgun before him. He cried with joy as he slowly lifted, wincing with pain as his hand, likely broken in his fall, grasped the handle of the shotgun. But his moment of sheer joy was shattered by a loud crash that echoed around the room. The shotgun dropped from his fingers and clattered to the floor as he turned to the large metal door he had entered through. As he looked the door shook as something hit against it from the other side. Again the crash echoed around the room. Again the door shook in its hinges.
The man looked around in terror, searching for enemies that were not there. He slowly reached down and gingerly grasped at the shotgun handle. But the pain that lanced through his hand confirmed his fear. His hand was broken and with his other arm broken it would be near impossible for him to use a weapon.
He grimaced at the irony, standing in an armoury, unable to use any of the weapons against the foe that hunted him.
Leaving the shotgun to rest upon the floor the man staggered across the room, supporting himself on the lockers. He reached the large locker that stood on its own at the top of the room. The green paint upon the metal had long since been scratched away, but here and there the tell-tale green paint clung on. He reached out with his hand before remembering it was broken.
Looking at the hand for the first time he saw it had swollen badly and that his fingers had turned a cold shade of blue. He was no medic but he knew it was broken just with a glance. He succeeded in opening the locker by carefully using his good hand instead of his broken hand, being careful not to hurt the broken arm further, ignoring the excruciating pain as best he could.
Within the locker were stacks of bandages, cases of drugs and things that the man did not care to think about, wicked blades and needles. The figure breathed a sigh of relief and slumped down beside the locker. He reached out with his broken hand and knocked the drugs and needles to the floor beside him. Wasting no time he moved his good hand quickly, ignoring the excruciating pain from his broken upper arm. He grabbed a random needle and plunged it into his shoulder. Gritting his teeth against the pain he picked another needle and injected the drugs inside into his thigh.
Pulling the needles from his body the man turned his attention back to the metal doors. The doors had been pounded by an unknown force and it was dented in several places. Again and again a force slammed against the door, shaking the door in its hinges and sending a crash that echoed around the small room. The man pushed himself to his feet and slowly staggered towards where the shotgun lay, discarded on the floor where he had left it, lying between him and the door.
The man was just a few metres away from the shotgun when the sound of tearing metal filled the room. The man turned to the door, and to his horror, saw an impossibly large, armoured fist that crackled with energy, punch through the door to the room. The fist was as red as blood and upon it were symbols that sent pure, unbridled fear into the man’s heart. For the symbols upon the fist were those of the Blood God himself, Khorne. The man could only watch, rooted to the spot with his terror, as the fist grasped the twisted metal and in a single fluid motion pulled the door from its hinges.
In the same instant that the door was pulled from its frame and thrown aside a flash of light sent an excruciating lance of pain through the man’s mind and he let out a cry as he fell to the floor, the smell of burnt flesh filling his nostrils.
Memories flooded the man’s fevered mind. Dream and reality clashed within his mind as he watched his life pass before his eyes.
The man was sitting in a simple room. But he was not a man; he was a young boy, the younger version of himself. He heard the voice of his old schoolmaster and raised his eyes only to cry out as he saw that the old and friendly man that had taken his lessons in his youth had been warped into a nightmarish creature that struck horror into his heart. The man stumbled back and fell onto the floor.
He was standing upon the doorstep of his home, a bunch of flowers in his hand, crimson and fragrant. He leant in to sniff them as the door opened and gagged. Instead of the smell of flowers the scent of death flooded his senses. He raised his gaze and saw a bloody corpse of himself in the doorway. He screamed and fell back.
Now he was in a deep forest, shadows flickering, just outside his gaze. He felt cold metal in his hands and clenched it. Hearing footsteps behind him he turned and raised his hands only to find he held a long needle rather than a lasgun as he had thought. The needle dripped blood on the floor and he dropped it to the floor in his horror. He saw his old squad mates emerging from the trees and surrounding him, in their hands were wicked knives. He fell to his knees and curled up, sobbing to himself as he waited for death to find him.
And then he was walking through the long grass of his home, a smile crossed across his face. This was a happy memory. He looked up to where he knew he would see his wife standing by the tall oak. He saw her, but instead of standing smiling in her clean white dress she was hanging from the tree, a noose around her neck and blood staining her dress. Her black eyes looked out at him. He cried out and turned, only for the ground beneath his feet to fall away and him to fall, down, down, down.
The man gasped. An explosion to his right made his ears ring and he was thrown to the floor by the shockwave. He landed on his side and he heard rather than felt the bone in his upper arm snap. He gritted his teeth and looked around him as he struggled to his feet. Soldiers like himself lay dead on the floor around him, blood leaking from gaping wounds. A click to his right cased his head to turn only for white hot shrapnel to slice at his face. He fell to his knees as pain lanced through him. It was excruciating. He went to open his eyes only to find that only one eye responded. His shaking hand rose to his right eye socket and he sobbed when he felt that nothing remained of his eye, only an empty eye socket. He felt blood running down his face but he had no time to worry about it. He rose once more to his feet and pulled a battered las pistol from its place at his hip. He looked up and saw, like he knew he would, the shape of the monster approaching. Standing at almost eight foot and clad in armour of the most crimson red the horrific figure wielded a roaring axe that seemed to thirst for his blood just as much as its owner. He tried to react but he knew that this point in his life could not be changed. Even as he raised his hands to try and defend himself he knew exactly where the axe would cut.
Sure enough he watched as it moved beneath his raised arms and sliced deep into his side, shredding his flak armour like it is paper and cutting the flesh beneath. The man turned and ran, like he knew he had to. Shouts nearby told him that his Commissar must have survived but before he could begin to listen the words resorted to a cry of pain, and then silence.
The man found himself running down the corridor but he could not remember how he got here. All he knew was where he had to go. But although he tried to run the blood and sweat upon his brow blinded him as it burned his eyes and he felt like he was running through treacle. He pumped his legs but it made no difference. But to his horror the footsteps behind him were getting closer with every second and he could almost feel the hot breath upon the back of his neck.
He saw the broken door and pushed towards it, only to see it move away even as he moved towards it. But somehow he reached the door and pulled himself through it, the footsteps right behind him as he saw his own body upon the floor.
As quickly as they had come the dreams retreated in a flash and them man woke to a crushing pressure upon his chest. He reached with his hands and felt his fingers meet with cold metal. He raised his eyes and gasped at the sight standing over to him. It was the same monster from his dream, or was it a memory? The armour was still blood red and in his hand he still held the roaring axe. The man winced from the memory of it cutting into his flesh and a flash of pain reminded him the wound was not a dream. The monster had his oversized foot placed squarely on the man’s chest and it was that which was crushing his chest. The man gasped for air but there was no release from the blood red figure.
The man could only watch as the monster raised its hands to its head and with a hiss lifted the ugly battered helmet, as red as the rest of its armour, from its head. The face beneath was human, but barely. The skin was deathly pale, the eyes milky and seemingly unseeing. The teeth were pointed and vicious. A scar ran down the things face, from the top of its hairless head to the base of its solid jaw. The mouth was formed into a snarl, baring the teeth.
To the man’s horror the thing spoke, the voice wild and foreboding.
“Blood for the Blood God. You are doomed Imperial scum. We quench our weapons in the hot blood of the strongest foes! We consecrate our guns with their stolen lives! We burn the cities, slaughter the innocent! Cry your prayers to the Dark Gods and let the sky burn red with rage! The rivers will flow red with your blood! And you shall know us by the trail of your dead! We are the legions of Khorne, His favourite warriors. We shall bring defeat and death to His enemies. We shall crush their worlds under our heel. Let blood flow in His name! From the fires of betrayal unto the blood of revenge. We bring the word of Lorgar, The Bearer of the Word, the Favoured Son of Chaos, all praise be given unto him. For those that would not heed, we offer praise to those who do that they might turn their gaze our way and gift us with the boon of pain to turn the galaxy red with blood and feed the hunger of the gods”
The man watched with an empty eye as the words of hate and bloodshed spilled forth from the monsters mouth. It should have been enough to strike him down with fear but the man was beyond fear. He felt it no longer. All he saw was the shotgun, just inches from his reach. He slowly began to reach towards it, hand inching closer. The figure spoke once more.
“Swear your allegiance to the Dark Gods and salvation can be yours. You will be delivered from death and serve alongside the great servants of the Blood God. Take my hand and become one with Khorne.”
As the figure fell silent once more the man’s fingers finally closed around the cold metal of the shotgun. He looked up and met gazes with the monster. His lips parted and his voice, cracked almost beyond the point of hearing choked out two words.
Swinging the shotgun up in an instant he fired off a round, the recoil slamming him back against the ground. He felt the pressure on his chest relax until it fell away completely. He watched as the monster toppled back and slammed down upon the metal floor. The man lay his head back upon the cold metal floor and sighed. He looked down upon his arm for the first time since his dreams and saw a long strip of burnt flesh running along his arm and across his chest.
He heard footsteps approaching and knew that other monsters must be approaching. He grasped the shotgun tightly once more and brought it up. He placed the barrel into his mouth, pointing up to his brain. He sobbed as a single tear ran down his cheek, the salty tear mixing with the sweat and blood upon his brow. Not wasting any more time his finger pulled the trigger and in a flash of brilliant light his head became nothing but a cloud of red mist and for the first time since the ship had been breached be could rest.
Brother-Sergeant Antipholus entered the room only moments later. Behind him came the rest of Squad Egeus, four proud space marines armed with bolters and clad in blessed power armour. The scene before them was one of destruction and death. The World Eater, clad in the distinct crimson armour of a Khorne worshipper, with his head eaten away by the shotgun blast. Nothing but the mangled and bloody remains of the lower jaw remained. And beside the Chaos Space Marine lay an Imperial Guardsman, blood pooling with sweat beneath his body, the head gone completely, a shotgun clutched in his hands.
Antipholus went down upon one knee and reached out for the Guardsman’s body. He lifted it easily in one large hand and turned to carry it away. As he walked the voice of his squad joined with his as he spoke the prayers of the Imperium.
“Praise the Emperor for his sacrifice, as He endures so shall we. We who are hunters of Daemons shall strive in his name eternally. We the Order of the Hammer, shall delve into dark shadows, We shall seek out the tainted, we shall pursue the vilest evil. It is we who stand guard, our eternal watch shall not fail, For we are the Ordo Malleus!”
“We Grey Knights are the hammers; we slay the darkness without fear. Founded in great mystery were we, Chapter six hundred and sixty six. Though on Titan we be hidden, yet our eyes encompass the Galaxy. No Devil shall elude our gaze; no Daemon shall avoid its fate. We shall be the Keepers Immortal; all secrets shall be our knowledge. We are the Guardians of Mankind!”
“Caution and secrecy are our code; watchfulness and patience are our way. Hidden from the Eyes of Chaos, we strike without warning or dread. Though we find ourselves in shadows, no blackness will enter our hearts. No treachery will touch our souls; no pride will sully our thoughts. We shall be pure amongst impurity; we shall be innocence amongst guilt. We are the Imperium`s hidden saviours!”
“We are spread across the Heavens; our watch is untiring and ceaseless. The Emperor shall guard our souls, as we guard those of others. Our will shall be our weapon; our faith shall be our armour. Our minds will be secure fortresses; no temptation will weaken our resolve. Though unnumbered lurking perils await us, our blades will ever be ready. For we are the Emperor`s Vengeance!”
“Masters of all weapons are we; no defence exists against our wrath. With the Nemesis shall we fight, with an Aegis to shield us. In bloodshed shall we save Mankind, death shall be our everlasting creed. War unending shall be our fate; in battle shall we be steeped. We shall be unstinting in hatred; we shall hunger for holy war. For we are Swords of Justice!”
“When all flee in hideous disarray, strong and sound shall we stand. Cowardice is wholly unknown to us; our courage comes from the Emperor. Unbowed and unshaken against all foes, we shall claim victory with blood. Steady and surely we hunt them, those that dare oppose our wrath. Death stalks us in many forms, the grotesque and the utterly inhuman. We are Bringers of Hope!”
“Bloody battles unending constantly await us, redemption the reward for our vigilance. When possession rears its unspeakable head, ours is the blade that descends. When empyrean horrors invade our realm, our exorcisms shall hurl them back. There is no chaos spawned horror which can resist our indomitable anger. With undaunted courage we shall prevail, no arcane magicks shall overcome us. We are the Bearers of Victory!”
“No corruption shall blemish our Galaxy; no immatricial fiend shall be spared. No malevolent spirit will oppose us; no creation of sin shall survive. No unholy deed shall go unpunished; all blasphemous acts shall be atoned. No spawn of misrule avoid us, all are banished to the void. Nothing shall evade our cleansing fire, not Daemon or Spawn or Renegade, For we are Mankind`s Divine Blade!”
“Heavenly blessings are laid upon us, the warp is ours to tame. Though sorceries shall be against us, no witchcraft will bring our doom. Though spell or incarnation blocks us, the Emperor shall see us victorious. No hex can overcome our determination, our resolve is strong as steel. Sigils and wards watch over us, prayers shall serve as our guide. For we are the Emperor`s Chosen!”
“There is much darkness awaiting us, yet the Emperor lights our path. Falsehood surrounds us at every turn, yet no traitor shall confound us. No despicable trickery will thwart us; no damnation shall bring us low. There is no peace for us, for an eternity we will strive. Though mere mortals in His service, everlasting shall be our true duty. Et Imperator Invocato Diabolus! Daemonica Exorcism!”
As Antipholus walked slowly down the corridor, the Guardsman in his arms, he passed more proud space marines, clad all in silver. Scattered on the floor where the corpses of the Chaos forces. The crimson armour blending with the blood washed floors. The victorious Grey Knights turned at the sound of Antipholus’ voice and they joined their voices with his till the words rang through the ship.
“Et Imperator Invocato Diabolus! Daemonica Exorcism!”