“I’m too old for this shit.” Muttered Aron under his breath.
“Shh.” said Felix flapping his arm emphatically at the white haired ghost. They were trying to sneak past some Iridians who were inconveniently choosing to be drunk and rowdy outside the door to their regiments food preparation facilities. Felix was getting ready to try and jump the two drunkards with the element of surprise when he was taped on the shoulder.
He looked back, Ferrero was pointing up, and Aron’s legs could be seen protruding from an open grate in the ceiling. As he watched Aron climbed the rest of the way up and reached down to help Ferrero up.
“Come on!” Mouthed Ferrero after he was up, reaching down to help Felix up.
After they were all up, into what looked like a ventilation shaft, they began to crawl parallel to the hallway towards the Iridian’s kitchen. They crawled on for a while, and then came to another grate. Looking thru they could see down onto a huge skillet, lain with rows of sausages. Aron peered around as best he could thru the grate. Lifting it up and moving it as quietly as he could, he poked his head down into the room. Felix crawled past Ferrero and grabbed Arons ankles, pushing him a bit forward. Aron shifted himself down, and Felix lowered him towards the skillet. Aron carefully picked a sausage up in each hand, they were terribly hot. He passed one of them up to Ferrero and ate the other. Then he carefully moved several into his left hand with his right. As he lifted the 4th, careful not to touch the hot surface of the skillet, an overweight Iridian with a huge almost empty tankard in one hand swayed in. Aron froze mid-lift, and the Iridian stoped in his traks. Neither made any sound, both were wide eyed, Aron in apprehension, and the Iridian in surprise. Aron did the only thing he could think of. He set the last sausage into his hand, and lifted a finger to his lips. Felix began to raise him back up into the vent. The Iridian just stood there completely still his eyes following the rising ghost. As Aron disappeared into the ceiling, he looked disbelievingly at his tankerd, blinked several times and walked away.
The three ghosts made it all the way back to their quarters without saying a word. Once they arrived, they all sat down and exchanged looks. Then they all broke out laughing.
“You should have seen his face.” Said Aron as he began to calm down.
Felix settled into his seat self-satisfactorily. “Ahh, food is always more filling when its well earned.”
“Agreed.” Agreed Ferrero.
Gaunt was confused. He wasn’t sure whether he was furious or glad that the Ghosts were coming. He had been hoping to find a way to contact them, but they were abandoning an imperial world to alien influence. Nothing justified such an action. Regardless, they would be arriving in less than 5 hours, and Gaunt knew one thing. He wasn’t happy about seeing Alexander or Agnos. They were both idiots and Gaunt didn’t want to deal with them. As his thoughts floated around in an unusually disorganized way he heard a knocking at his door. He walked across his room, simple and unadorned by his own choosing, and opened it.
“Greetings Ibram, may I enter?” Said Marluxia in a pleasant voice.
“Of course inquisitor.” Said Gaunt stepping aside. He shuddered inside. He could not place it but there was something unsettling about this particular agent of the inquisition.
“Isn’t it glorious?” asked Marluxia. “A living Primarch walks among us. To live in such times is truly a privilege is it not Ibram?”
“I suppose.” Responded Gaunt.
The inquisitor raised an eyebrow. “That is surprising to me.”
“What is?” Asked Gaunt.
“You forget, I am an inquisitor. You don’t believe that the primarch is real.” Said Marluxia. “you doubt it at the very least.”
Gaunt hesitated. “I won’t deny that I find it difficult to believe.”
“But you witnessed his miracle firsthand did you not?” Asked Marluxia, showing a hint of amusement.
Gaunt hesitated again. He still felt uneasy about this man. “Yes, I saw the miracle. And after that miracle there was no doubt in my mind that he was the real thing, a primarch in the flesh. But that feeling faded, and that miracle could just as easily have been witchcraft.”
Marluxia laughed and clapped his hands with a grin. Gaunt was caught off guard.
“Very good Ibram! You would make a fine inquisitor. Doubt is the first step on the road to enlightenment.” He paused for a moment. “But I can assure you. He is real.”
Gaunt furrowed his brow. “How can you be sure?”
Marluxia smiled. “Because I was the one who discovered the process to create him.”
“What?” Said gaunt completely confused and somewhat wary.
“I was the one who was able to connect the evidence that the primarch was not dead, that he was in fact in stasis beneath the cathedral, frozen mere seconds before his death. It was I who was able to predict the opening when we could remove him. It was I who was able to extract the gene seed from him and transfer it to Julius Ceaser.”
“Oh.” Said gaunt slightly alarmed at the zeal in this man’s voice.
“My experiment was perfect Ibram. Don’t doubt it.” Said Marluxia with a smile, but behind his eyes something sinister shone.
“I see.” Said gaunt.
With that Marluxia made to leave very abruptly. He paused near the door, noticing the sword of Heironimo lying on a table. “The famous sword of Heironimo?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful.” And with that Marluxia left the room.
Gaunt just stared at the door. It had been a long day. It was time to sleep.
Gaunt was awoken to the sound of knocking at his door. He rolled out of bed and walked over to it and opened it. He found himself facing one of the inquisitors he had not been introduced to yet. An imposing figure despite his small size, he wore a white mask with a black I on it. Draped around him was a long brown coat, and a matching wide brimmed hat adorned his head.
“Come.” Said the inquisitor monotonously
Gaunt followed him, and after a while he began to talk.
“Phoenix has arrived. The Primarch called for everyone’s presence.”
“Alright.” Said Gaunt.
“Iradius told me to inform you of our group’s intentions.” Said the inquisitor, continuing to speak in a monotone.
“Good, I’ve been wondering about them for some time now.” Responded Gaunt.
“You are familiar with the idea of the star child?” he asked.
“I’ve been told of it. You believe that the emperor is some kind of shaman that will reincarnate if you kill him?”
“An over-simplification. Yes.”
Gaunt was angered by an inquisitor so calmly discussing such a disturbing subject. “So you would raise your hand against the immortal master of mankind?”
“No.” Sated the inquisitor. “Besides, my personal opinion is irrelevant. I was told to inform you of the group’s intentions as a whole. The emperor was struck down in the final battle against Horus. He would have died had it not been for the construction of the golden throne. The golden throne enables his body to continue to function, and for his spirit to produce the Astronomican, correct?”
“Yes.” Responded Gaunt.
“No. This is false. The Astronimican is produced by a chorus of psykers that are executed each day upon terra. The death cries of these psykers resonate and create a beckon that navigators use to pinpoint the location of terra and navigate by that method. This is true. As the Emperor does not produce the Astronomican, but is too close to death to fill any other roll, why is his current form preserved?”
“I wouldn’t know.” Said gaunt, grudgingly intrigued.
“He serves as an idea.” Said the inquisitor. “As long as he resides on terra, all the people of the Imperium are unified in the thought that he is watching, that he is protecting, that he is divine. It is this idea that holds the Imperium together. Now think, were one to kill him, how would anyone know? The Astronimican would continue, as the thought that he produces it is false.”
“I still don’t see a reason to kill him. There is no proof that he would re-incarnate” Said gaunt.
“We have found knowledge predating the Imperium itself that has allowed us to know the truth about his re-incarnation.” Stated the inquisitor simply.
“Really?” Said gaunt doubtfully.
“Yes. Thru many years of archeological effort we were able to reconstruct a machine that was under construction during the Horus heresy by an adept of mars. It was deadly, many of the test subjects died, and thousands of psykers were sacrificed for its use.” Stated the inquisitor.
“And what did this machine do.” Asked Gaunt quite sure he was talking to a madman.
“It opened one’s mind to the warp.” Said the inquisitor.
“What?” Said Gaunt shocked and terrified.
“It opened one’s mind to the warp.” Said the inquisitor again.
Gaunt just stared at the back of the inquisitors head speechless as they walked onward.
“The machine opened one’s mind to the warp; opened one’s mind to all knowledge. The warp is timeless and consists of thought. Therefore by opening one’s mind to the warp one thinks every thought ever to be thought or to have been thought. Such a state is overwhelming, will destroy a being quickly. And for each use thousands of psykers were needed. We were able to use it only a few times. We learnt three things. First, that our race was once lead by beings of psychic notability known as shamans. Second, that the shamans could reincarnate themselves after death. Third, that to avoid extinction the Shamans combined the sum of their being into the being we now call the emperor. Therefore we may assume that the emperor will reincarnate himself after death, and that the only thing stopping him is his current state which could be counted as akin to life.”
Gaunt couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Such heresy was unbelievable.
“Thru extensive research into the history of the Imperium, we found of the existence of a cult that known as the cult of the star child. It was faceted upon the belief that the emperor was to create a new form for himself, the star child and when he died he would return to the materium in this form. It was led by a number of individuals who called themselves Sensei. They were all powerful psykers, and most interestingly claimed that they were the blood descendents of the emperors many families that undoubtedly sprung up throughout the great crusade and earlier. They gathered together as many psykers as possible and waited for the emperor to give them a sign that he was soon to return. Upon that sign they would all kill themselves as sacrifice to give the emperor extra power. They were slaughtered for heresy by the inquisition centuries ago.”
“How do I know that this isn’t a complex heresy intended to bring the imperium into another civil war?” Demanded Gaunt angrily.
“We have fact checked.” Responded the inquisitor.
“How?” Demanded Gaunt.
“The primarch has confirmed all our suspicions.”
Gaunt’s mind reeled. “Then why did the primarch allow the emperor to be preserved after the Horus Heresy?”
“He believed that the Imperium still needed the figurehead of the emperor on Terra to unify it, that without him all would crumble. He convinced the other chapters of this.”
Gaunt didn’t want to believe it. The thought that he was surrounded by people who not only wanted to kill the Emperor, but had consorted themselves with the warp and was powerless to stop them terrified him. The fact that they were inquisitors made it doubly frightening.
But a thought gnawed at the back of his mind. What if they were right? What if the Imperium was ready to do without its Idol? What if…
But he would not allow himself such heretical thoughts. The Imperium was founded on faith and he would have faith in what he had been taught all his life. And yet…
Gaunts mind warred back and forth as he followed the inquisitor onward. They came to a large door. As usual nothing was marked. They both entered the room on the other side. Gaunt looked around. They were in a large surprisingly well furnished area. An Aquila tapestry adorned one wall, and tapestries of the marks of the ordos of the inquisition adorned the other three. A number of tables were scattered about. Large cushioned chairs were arranged around the tables, and a number were filled with the inquisitors and Space marines. Riley sat apart from the others. Guilliman stood on a raised platform, and a large star chart was projected onto the wall behind him.
“I see we are all here now.” Said Isaac who sat close to the front with Iradius. “Now, if it pleases you your holiness I’m sure we are all eager to see what you brought us here to show.”
Before the Primarch could speak, Gaunt interrupted. “I want to get one thing straight. This man here just told me about this groups plan. He also told me that you agree with them Guilliman.”
Guilliman nodded. “Yes. I will however be filling in a few details now.”
Gaunt fumed. “How can any of you be so ARROGANT!?” Everyone in the room immediately turned their attention to gaunt. “How can any of you assume to know what the emperor wills!? How can any of you assume to understand a God!?”
“Why do you assume he is a God?” Asked Guilliman quietly.
Gaunt turned to him.
“Gaunt. Do you know why the word bearers are no longer loyal to the Imperium?”
“No.” Said Gaunt confused and angry.
“During the great crusade, they revered The Emperor above all others. They sung his praise constantly, no glory was too great to be placed on him by the word bearers. They worshiped him. As a God.”
“Then why did they betray him?” Asked gaunt.
“Because he demanded that they stop worshiping him. They did not understand. They became confused, and turned to false Gods of chaos. That is how fervently against religion he was. My father’s vision was not one of an empire that would stand stagnant in superstition and tradition for ten thousand years. It was of an empire that would stand as a beacon of progress in moderation. Of an empire intelligent enough to advance and wise enough to know when to stop. The greatest mistake I ever made was to let him live after Horus betrayed him. With him imprisoned upon the golden throne, he could not spread his wisdom among humanity, and it fell into the sad state of stagnation it is in now.”
Gaunt just stared. In that moment he had seen it again. The holiness that had shone thru at the cathedral. From then on he knew. There was only one path open to him. Thru hell and back, he would follow the primarch.
Next time: Things get epic. =D
"A true king is never alone, his will is equal to the will of all of his followers."
-Alexander the Great, kind of