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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-10-13, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Default Red Knife [WH40k]

Red Knife

INHABITING SOMEONE ELSE’S identity gets easier over time, so long as you remember the details. I know, I’ve had twelve years of practice. Twelve years is time enough to weave a web of deceit to those who I come in contact with, and eventually, false memories become real ones. At some point, I simply became Tanada Sano.

Who Sano was wasn’t important, what is important is that he was an initiate of the Akamida Kyodakai, the Red Knife Fraternity, an esoteric organisation that in truth was just another abhorrent cult dedicated to death and blood that infested the Imperium. Over the last twelve years, Tanada Sano had risen through their ranks, expanded their membership, spent time with its members, and now at long last, entered the secret sanctum of the brotherhood’s inner circle.

Twelve years. Mission complete. The sanctum has now been revealed to me. I thought it would be prudent to try and figure out some way to communicate its location, but it appears I’d be wasting my effort, as evidenced by blips that are now pulsating in my surgically altered inner ear with increasing speed. It does not surprise me that the hidden masters have used me as a human beacon, to locate what they could not using long range orbital scans. My masters now know where I am, and they are coming to retrieve me.

The sanctum is as you imagine it: ancient brickwork lit by candlelight, with an impressive stone altar, currently occupied by a man enduring the cult’s most elaborate ceremony known to us as The Thousand Cuts. As the name implies, the blood ritual is barbaric and the kyodaka is close to death, his lifeblood pooling in small channels cut into the stonework of the altar.

I am disgusted, but it is nought compared to the fear I experience just by looking at the thing that stands behind the altar. The high priest of the Akamida Kyodaka barely qualified as human. Impossibly large, the trans-human armoured giant stands immobile, intently staring at me through a huge, snarling skull helmet.

Blip. Blip. Blip.

Finely wrought brass details are worked into an ornately decorated arm that ends in a massive pauldron, featuring the bone white device of a gigantic, stylised maw against a deep arterial red of the shoulder plate.

It is my turn to make the cermonial cut. I cautiously approach the altar and a bloodied ritual athame is placed into my hands by the red butcher. My heart begins to race uncontrollably. I grasp the proffered knife and take my position, the coarse linen of the robe chafes me and I raise the athame in the ritual stance of the Akamida.

Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip.

I do not slash the knife across the man on the altar as I’m supposed to. Instead, I vault onto the stonework and launch myself at the nearest kyodaka. Adrenaline surges into my body as my own gene-hancements activate, a cocktail of chemicals which for a time, will grant me a fraction of the transhuman speed and strength of my masters.

The room erupts in a series of startled shouts.

The kyodaka, another high ranking officiate in the Akamida overcomes his confusion quickly enough to throw a vicious jab at my exposed throat with prodigious skill. It is a strike which I know will paralyse me for life should he connect. I twist to avoid the blow, and my arm that clutches the athame naturally rises upwards and slashes across the kyodaka’s face with superhuman force temporarily afforded to me. A bright red arc sprays across the room with an impressive trajectory, and he is dead before he meets the ground.

Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip.

As I suspected, my victory is short lived as a red blur strikes me with the force of a sledgehammer fired out of a large cannon. Though I am wearing a piece of armour several grades above the tech-levels in the entire system, the amount of protection it affords is completely useless against the ceramite gauntlet that pulverises my ribs with a sickening crunch. Pain blooms instantly, and it overwhelms the morphoid-pain suppressants now coursing through my system.

Gasping, I begin to fall backward, it is agony unlike anything I have ever endured. The pain, oh the pain! I am going to…

I am…

Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip.

I am.

I…

Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip.
The blips in my surgically altered cochlea reach a crescendo, becoming one with the throbbing agony that envelops me.

I…

I am going t–


There is a loud crash and the wall to my left simply vanishes as the ancient bricks of the temple room are atomised.

The blips stop, replaced by the deafening cacophony of a bolt pistol being fired on full auto, aimed squarely at the crimson man-giant in front of me.

Salvation has arrived, and he is armoured in a matte, muddy indigo, devoid of any markings or insignia. Understated nobility, this superhuman is the antithesis to the crimson killer that intends to end me.

The butcher roars, unleashing an uncontrollable rage at the prospect of an opponent that matches him in size and speed. He screams a challenge as a series of barely intelligible, guttural barks.

I black out for a second.

‘... the Thron–’

Darkness. All is darkness save for the sound. It rattles in my inner ear and I realise with startling clarity that my master has spoken. In my pain, the sound is tinny, but full of authority. Three words.

‘For the Emperor.’

What happens next is rendered to me as a stilted, discordant sequence, like an old Masusashi V20 film projection unit I used to own in the scholam. A blur of shapes, muddy indigo and crimson dance across my field of vision. I see a chainsword whirr into life, red like the butcher, its teeth singing their promise of a life ended in a flurry of chewed up, lacerated flesh. It lunges like a predatory fish towards my saviour.

The blackness envelops me again, and a new surge of agony flares as the pain suppressants begin to dissipate. I look on, despite my impending demise.

Sparks fly as the crimson killer’s chainsword connects, and my lord jerks uncontrollably. I hear the grunt of surprise, teeth gritted. The crimson killer’s snarling skull helm has cracked, revealing the butcher beneath, a pallid, dour face framed by teeth filed into points. In an act of rage induced madness, the butcher tries to bite the soft area between my saviour’s helm and chest piece. My master seizes the opportunity and slams his bolt pistol into the face of the crimson killer and just like that, the struggle ends with a single, thunderous roar. The bolt does not miss at close range, spraying clumps of trans-human tissue and fluid across the room. The crimson killer slumps, and I once again I find myself face to face with the terrifying, bone white stylised maw of the armoured pauldron.

It will be the last thing I will ever see.

+++

A dull ache has replaced the intense agony, and I realise I am not dead. A voice. That voice, and I discern that I am being addressed.

‘–dentifer, now.’

‘Wha–?’ I manage to croak, before a indigo gauntleted fist gently smacks me across the face. I am instantly alert. Meme-printed memories, long since forgotten, suddenly blaze into existence and I begin to recite a complex string of alphanumeric phrases in rapid sequence.

The armoured giant nods, apparently satisfied. He stands, immobile yet utterly lethal. Morphoid pain suppressants no doubt administered by my master allow me to stand too, albeit with great difficulty.

‘You found me just in time, my lord,’ I manage. The giant does not turn.

‘Indeed, Hoji. You have done us a great service,’ he begins, but is interrupted by a cry. I realise it is me, for I have been addressed by my birth name for the first time in over a decade and emotion takes me. I am only human after all. The astartes nods again, and continues.

‘Signal the Omicron and inform them we have three to extract. We will be taking him,’ the giant points towards the crimson killer. ‘Your mission is complete.’

Relief washes over me, and yet my curiosity is piqued. Over a decade of my life, for what exactly?

‘Forgive me master, what exactly is the significance of this place?’ I ask, not expecting an answer.

The astartes turns to face me once again. He is mulling over the answer, and finally, he disengages his helm. I realise I’ve never seen any of the hidden masters without their helmets, and a noble, copper tinged face is looking back at me. His eyes are flint grey.

‘This place is of significance to the all the sons of Sanguinius, especially the Flesh Eaters chapter. It was once said that the primarch of the Ninth himself once meditated on this spot, leading to the kind of superstitious nonsense the Imperials have created to perpetuate their dominion built upon religious ignorance,' he pauses, noting that I am listening intently. The master continues.

'It is a social cancer that eats at the heart of everything we stand for, and we must cleanse the taint. We are fighting the Long War, Hoji. The Truth stills guide us, and we will do anything and everything we can to restore humanity as the dominant species in the galaxy. It is our duty to cleanse the zealotry that controls humanity in the shackles of theocratic dogma. You are the pebble that is cast into the pond, and what you have started here is a war where we will seek to move from treating the symptoms to stopping this ideological disease from occurring in the first place. The angels of blood will come, and we will be ready for them.'

The giant procures a small, human sized device and hands it to me. A compact flamer.

‘Destroy this place,’ instructs the astartes.

I press the trigger and a gout of flame dribbles out, hungrily consuming the bodies of the dead.

Over a decade of deceit is cleansed as the flames become my catharsis.

I am no longer Tanada Sano, kyodaka, or indeed an Imperial citizen slaved to its superstitious dogma. My name is Hoji. I am human, an operative of the XX legion, and I will serve my masters once more by any and all means.

The Emperor upholds a teleological scheme for the future of man, unifying and perfecting humanity through the intense application of martial violence, and I will endeavour to uphold it.

Last edited by Nineswords; 10-14-13 at 09:19 AM.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-13, 03:31 AM
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Loved it , I'm afraid I don't have much else to say beyond that, your story was written with a lot of care. It probably would've smarter for Hoji to reveal his true nature a couple of feet more from the Marine .

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-13, 06:39 PM
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Excellent perspective. In rereading, I can't quite tell if the ritual was a Chaos cult, as described by Hoji, or if it was some off-the-map Flesh Eaters ritual being led by one of their more out-there Chaplains... although from the description, it does sound more like a Chaos Space Marine leading the ritual on first read.

I like how you're casting the Alpha Legion as the defenders of humanity, although most of the prior descriptions of the AL Astares has them festooned in spiky bits or at least showing some sign of corruption from Chaos.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-13, 07:49 PM
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This is some great writing Nineswords. It really captures the moods of the characters and takes us, the readers, for a great ride!



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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-12-13, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Two Meters Tall! View Post
Excellent perspective. In rereading, I can't quite tell if the ritual was a Chaos cult, as described by Hoji, or if it was some off-the-map Flesh Eaters ritual being led by one of their more out-there Chaplains... although from the description, it does sound more like a Chaos Space Marine leading the ritual on first read.

I like how you're casting the Alpha Legion as the defenders of humanity, although most of the prior descriptions of the AL Astares has them festooned in spiky bits or at least showing some sign of corruption from Chaos.
Ah that's my lack of finesse. As it's told from the perspective of a non-Imperial human, the implication was that even a loyalist marine would appear to be a complete menace. It's a cult of Sanguinius - all Imperial of course - and as you say, a Flesh Eaters ritual by one of their more out there representatives.

The Alpha Legion in this case was that of the portrayal in LEGION by Dan Abnett - the ultimate double agents as it were. There is a clear philosophical distinction to be made between humanity and the Imperium at large, just as there is between the Alpha Legion of the Great Crusade and the generic spiky bad guys in 40k. There are many shades in between and I like the exploration of at least one faction that perform their own form of extremism in the Emperor's name.

Thanks for your comments everyone, I've made a couple of changes to make it less confusing.

The Emperor upholds a teleological scheme for the future of man, unifying and perfecting humanity through the intense application of martial violence, and I will endeavour to uphold it.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-12-13, 06:34 PM
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Really enjoyed it mate.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-13-13, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

The Emperor upholds a teleological scheme for the future of man, unifying and perfecting humanity through the intense application of martial violence, and I will endeavour to uphold it.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-13-13, 09:43 AM
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Even though I'm just echoing those who have posted before me, this was absolutely brilliant! Loved the imagery throughout, the use of a unique perspective on even non-Chaos aligned SMs was excellent. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-14-13, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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Cheers! I have a few more ideas for some shorts, and a plot for a small novella.

The Emperor upholds a teleological scheme for the future of man, unifying and perfecting humanity through the intense application of martial violence, and I will endeavour to uphold it.
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