Plague has come to Terra!
Plague has come to Terra!
Bartamaus Hess, M41.789 Does the Emperor protect?
It has been a long time since I have written to you. I don’t know why it has taken so long. Maybe it is because of the perpetual guilt that sits deeply within my soul. Maybe it is the ever present devouring parasite of bitterness that so infects me. Indeed it has been a long road that I have traveled upon. For the simple purpose of explanation I will try to convey to you the thoughts of my heart. Not that I expect you to tarry until the end, because I doubt you would want to mentally travel down the road I have been on. It is a dark road where no light exists. Just know that if you read this letter, this tale of woe that you will bear within yourself the knowledge of despair such as you have never known before. Remember my dear friend… you cannot un-see what you have seen and you can never erase the knowledge of what you will learn within this tome of pain. The warning has been given. Now it is your choice to read on or burn this remembrance before the truth gains a foothold within your soul.
As the Inquisition has every right to attach itself wherever it believes something worth investigating or deemed threatening to the Imperium of man may present itself, the Ordo Xinos had imposed its will.
The Mechanicus’s thirst for knowledge is legendary and not always prudent or well thought out. They tend to find things that should not be found and on occasion release things that should never have been released.
It was raining and dark. The smell of wet earth and mud filled my sinuses. I hated it there. It was filthy as though even the wind seemed polluted. It had taken three years to get there, to that vile moon of an uncharted world on the outskirts of the forbidden zone. I should not have permitted it, but Chrious had spoken to me privately and convinced me, at least in part, that there was merit to the information he was carrying. “I believe it could be the lost crash site of the Argos Rex, believed destroyed in the Omega system two hundred years ago.’ he said in a white noise voice. It was clear the Archmagos was filtering his vocalizer for my sake. I appreciated that.
‘How can you be sure Archmagos? The Argos has not been confirmed in any of my records or those of my Order, since the battle of the Fallen so long ago.’ I watched him for some indication of falsehood but as with any machine no tell- tales were visible to me. When watching things made of flesh and blood one can see and even learn to understand in a moment the give aways. The Archmagos leaned forward and locked his opticals upon my eyes, ‘There is a distress call emanating from the third moon in the shadow of an unknown world. The ident maches the last recorded records of the Argos Rex. It must be recovered at all costs. The knowledge we could gain from such a find may prove invaluable to not only the Mechanicus but to the Imperium as well. ‘
That conversation felt like a life time ago.
Lightning sent brilliant lines and flashes through the heavy acidic clouds overhead. Griffith Lonch stepped in out from the heavy rain into the temporary command structure that consisted more of heavy tarpaulins and poles than any real secure structure. He was big and heavily armored carrying a full auto shotgun and a side arm that was more like a small cannon than a side arm. He never smiled, a product of being raised in a hive city. He carried a lot of bitterness and rightly so. His family were murdered in their sleep when he was just a boy. I picked him because he held within himself a controlled fury and a willingness to avenge evil wherever he saw it. ‘I don’t like it here.’
I looked up from the report I was reading. ‘You don’t like it anywhere, Lonch.’ I smiled and went back to reading the report. He stepped close to me, dripping on what passed for a table. ‘I mean, this place feels corrupted. It is unnatural. It is making me sick deep within my core.’ I looked up again then looked around the small enclosure. ‘Does anyone feel the same or is Lonch being dramatic again?’Bea Cremoth set the sword she had been sharpening down crossways on her legs. ‘I agree, sir, this place has a … feel about it. I can’t put my finger on it, but yes. My mind is foggy as though unheard voices are trying to whisper warnings to me.’ Bea had been with me from the beginning. She was beautiful and smart. Also she was dangerous and very skilled with not only that sword she carried but also with her wit. I trusted her with my secrets. I trusted her judgment although it seemed I did not always submit to her judgment.
Flavin Yor stood up and folded the scroll he had been studding. ‘This is an unknown world with unnatural properties. We must leave here as soon as the Mechanicus has found what they are looking for.’ Flavin Yor was my scholar. His wisdom and gifting was second to none in my opinion. Lastly I looked to Michal Prist. The Mechanicus had not been kind to him after the fire bomb had ravished most of his body eleven years back while we had been purging Fiston vii of heretics. Both arms had been replaced as well as his right leg and an eye. His face was still massively scarred, but he did not complain. He was glad of his new gifts, he said. I never inquired about what he meant. His faithfulness was all I needed.
‘My guts feel like they will spill out.’ he said. I sat down. ‘I feel the same. I should never have permitted Archmagos Chrious to undergo this venture, but if what he believes to be here, it will be well worth the discomfort. Keep a close eye on him and his retinue. As with all like him, there is a thin line of trust.’ I dismissed them and left the “Command Structure” to speak with our dear Archmagos.
I stepped into the shuttle and shook the remnants of the rain from my overcoat. ‘I want to leave this place as soon as we can. Therefore I want to get to the location of the distress call immediately, recover what we can and leave.’ The Archmagos turned slowly from what he had been attending to and if he could have smiled I’m sure he would have. ‘The recovery of the Argos Rex and what secrets it may uncover is paramount but it must be done with care, Inquisitor. We shall be ready with our preparations in three human hours. Is there anything else I can do for you or will you keep me from my work any longer?’ I wanted to shoot that mechanical face but instead I thanked him and went back out into the rain.
It was hard to believe but it seemed that the rain was harder and heavier. I could barely see. It was coming in sheets as thick as a veil. But instead of getting colder as what light we had began to fade, it got warmer. My retinue and me were dripping sweat. ‘What is the point of wearing all this rain gear if we are going to be soaked by our own sweat?’ Griffith growled. I agreed, but did not answer him. Bea was holding her stomach and seemed to look green but in the fading light and the deep shadows I could not be sure. ‘Bea, are you well?’ she shook her head but said ‘Duty calls and I have answered sir.’ I smiled. ‘There is no shame if you do not attend us. If you cannot go on’ Bea interrupted me,’ ‘Sir! I said I have answered.’ I nodded. ‘Lift off in five minutes.’
The shuttle ride was uncomfortable to say the least. The beeps and screeches that passed for conversation between the Archmagos and the twelve Mechanicus Priests that attended him became annoying within minutes. One would wonder how we lasted for three years upon the Divine Knowledge without murdering them but the Emperor Protects. I smiled at the thought. It was dark in the hold except for the low lights of the cogitators blinking and the small floor lamps that illuminated the walk. Archmagos Chrious looked to me, ‘The beacon is within twelve kloms. We will be at the Argos within three minutes. Please be ready as we will move quickly.’ I placed my hand on Griffith’s arm, a small movement that kept him from un-holstering his side arm. ‘He meant no offence. Please do not shoot him until we have returned to known territories.’ He looked into my eyes. I actually think he almost smiled. I know I did.
The shuttle hovered within visual range of the Argos Rex. The darkness was all but complete but the spotlights cut through the inky black and upon the wreckage of the Argos. It could have been that the rain and the acidic nature of the moon had contributed to the rust but I had never seen dilapidation quite like it except in the waste yards of thousand year old ships long forgotten and useless even to the Mechanicus. ‘I have a bad feeling about this.’ Flavin Yor said. He secured his overcoat tighter and closer around his throat. His voice was wet with phlegm. It seemed the closer we were to the Argos, the more sickly we felt except for the Mechanicus. They did not seem to be effected at all.
‘I recommend re-breathers, sir.’ Bea suggested. I agreed. The shuttle set down forty meters from a massive rip in the structure that dripped black streams in the dark. The shuttle bay door opened and with it a hot wind pushed a foul smell that blasted us harshly. Bea quickly pulled the re-breather from her face and vomited on the ramp. She quickly replaced the re-breather and staggered forward, almost falling as she did so. Michal grabbed her before she could fall. She seemed to strengthen some and got her legs back under her. ‘Thank you Michal. I can go on sir,’ she looked at me but I could see she was shaken deep inside. I should have stopped her, but I trusted her judgment.
The Archmagos stopped beside us, ‘Do not get in our way, Inquisitor. We are eager to find the beacon.’ He looked to Bea when he spoke to me. He saw her weakness. As he moved forward with his retinue a bolt fell from his cloak and slapped the deck. He did not seem to notice and pressed on into the rain toward the gaping wound in the side of the Argos. I bent and picked it up. It was covered in rust and crumbled between my fingers. ‘Be at the ready. ‘ I said needlessly. Michal stopped with the rain pouring heavily upon him. He shook his head and put a hand to his face. From the cover of the Argos I watched him. I could not see what he was doing, but I could tell something was seriously wrong. I walked back out to him, ‘Michal?’ He did not look up. ‘It’s my eye sir.’ He held out his hand and in it he held on to what had once been his mechanical eye but was now a crumpled mess of rust and maggots.
I did not have to argue with him to make him go back to the shuttle. He was limping noticeably and hunched. I made my back inside. I was grateful to be out of the rain. But it was hot in the Argos Rex. It was unnatural. Flavin Yor coughed and bent at the waist. ‘We have to get out of here, Inquisitor. This place is cursed.’ If I had not known him well I would have shot him for being a coward. But I did know him. He was not a coward and he was a friend. ‘Hold on for a while longer Flavin.’ I put my hand on his shoulder. He was burning with heat. I could feel it even through his coat and my gloves.
We worked our way through blackened corridors that seemed to sweat black fungus that ebbed with a inky rot. Every so often we would find a mechanical arm or bolt or spring. A mechanical foot greeted us at the entrance of a great room that smelled of death and vegetative decay. Bea collapsed. Griffith bent over her for a moment then recoiled harshly falling back and colliding against the wall. He did not speak. He coughed and vomited. He was choking and pulled the re-breather from his face. He began to gasp before quickly putting it back on. ‘Emperor!’ I cried. I looked down at Bea. What had once been a beautiful was now covered in the same black fungus that sweated from the walls. Her eyes were gone and in their place maggots milled. Her mouth opened. And maggots squirmed out and onto the floor. Within moments they sprouted wings. A pestilent fog moved around our feet.
‘Get back to the shuttle. Now!’ I gasped. ‘What about you sir?’ Flavin wheezed. ‘Emperor damn me, Flavin. Go! Now!’ I turned and ran into the room where Archmagos Chrious was overseeing his retinue. They were gathered around something. I could not see what. Their heads were down. There was no light except for the one I was holding. I called out to them, ‘We have to go now!’ They did not move. I ran and closed the distance. Archmagos, we have to leave this place now!’ Again there was no movement, no beeps or screeches. I flashed my light fully on them and stopped. They were rusted to the spot. That same black inky fungus covered them. Maggot flies were thick and buzzed incessantly creating a dull white noise that threatened to drive me mad.
What had they been looking at? What had captured their attention so strongly that it caused them to ignore even the degradation of their own bodies? I moved past them I could not resist. An armored figure stood there unmoving. It was black and green armor. It was the source of the beacon. The source of the pestilence. I recoiled and fell back. I tried to get up but something had a hold of me. I looked down, at my leg. A gauntleted hand had hold of me. It pulled. I screamed. I never screamed. Never. When I had broken my bones I did not scream. In the face of deamons, I did not scream. But there I was, screaming. Two massive fingers pulled the re-breather from my face. The strap snapped. Breath from the grave poured into my face. I gagged and spat.
‘Why are you still alive?’ the creature that had once been a Space Marine rumbled. His voice was like sand on steel. It was filled with phlegm and disease. He held me by my overcoat. ‘You do not know do you?’ He laughed. The laughter made me weep. You are of use to me for the moment Inquisitor. That is why you are alive.’ Slowly it stood and began to move. With a casual wave of his hand the Archmagos and his retinue crumbled to the floor. ‘Decay. Everything decays at some point.’ The Death Guard carried me out into the rain and to the shuttle. Countless swarms of flies filled the hold. The decayed skeletal remains of my closest friends and retinue greeted me as we entered. He tossed me casually down and pointed to the pilot seat. ‘Fly.’
To my shame I did. I operated the shuttle with the skill and training that had been instilled within me so long ago. I did not fight. I did not resist. I could feel the Death Guard watching me. I could hear his breathing, like a living cancer inhaling and exhaling from the ruined grill of his helm. I called out to the Emperor one time. When I did, my tongue began to bleed and it fell from my mouth. ‘Do not defy me again.’ The voice was beside my face but when I looked the Death Guard was not there. He was still behind me. The flies were everywhere but they did not obscure my vision. They crawled all over me but stayed off of my face. He was controlling them.
The Divine Knowledge came into view. I should have rammed the shuttle into the side of the Mechanicus ship, but again to my shame; I did not. The bay doors opened to receive us. I wanted to scream at them, to warn them. I wanted to … save them. As soon as the shuttle set down the Death Guard opened the shuttle door and stepped out onto the deck. The flies went with him. They flooded the bay. Death moved and decay flooded everything. Tendrils of puss and black fungus streamed out felling any it came in contact with. The Death Guard moved out of view.
I ran to the shuttle door and closed it as quickly as I could. I lifted off. Turned the shuttle and ran. I ran for my life. He could have killed me at any time. I don’t know why he did not. My dear friend. I am in hiding. I know the Inquisition that I faithfully served for so long will come for me, but I believed you dear Tiberious, should know the events that set me on this road. Please forgive me my dear friend.
May the Emperor protect.
In the service of the Throne
Black inky fungus covered the hands and spores of putrescence puffed into the face of Inquisitor Tiberious. He gasped. He had been warned. He should not have read the letter. He should have burned it. He had been warned. He understood why the Death Guard had let his long time friend go; why he had not killed him. It was too late. Plague has come to Terra!
We move slowly through the shrouds of fog sending pestilence before us. There is no hope! We are the Death Guard. Fear us for we are coming for you!
Last edited by Ambush Beast; 11-03-19 at 02:33 AM.