So begins the next piece of my 40k fiction madness. This story will be longer, harder, darker etc (or so I hope) and hopefully will keep you all interested.
Please do leave feedback - as much or as little as you like, positive or negative - it all helps!
Shades of Grey
"They're all dead," said Melkonis grimly, his augmented Astartes senses failing to discern anything more than his captain's outline in the seemingly perpetual and impenatrable gloom of the inner sanctum.
"Three of the renegades proved far to mentally unstable to survive even the subtlest of Brother Broussard's interrogation methods."
Captain Caiphus turned slowly, the dim glow of the altar's candles revealing little of his face. His shadowy visage regarded Melkonis for a moment.
"What of the fourth?" Caiphus asked, his tone heavy.
"He confirmed the location, but knew nothing of its true purpose."
Melkonis watched for his captain's expression, but saw no hint of emotion. A quick glance at the altar suggested why; still there sat the crublimg grimoire that had held the captain's attention for so many days. What forgotten knowledge so unspeakable could it contain that would rob a man of his mirth, leaving little more than a cold statue where once a proud and noble warrior had stood?
Melkonis looked back at Caiphus.
"What are your orders, sir?"
"Instruct the navigators to prepare a course for Phaedron," Caiphus commanded, "We shall recover the secrets of this fabled temple," he crossed his chest in the sign of the Aquila, "for the glory of the Relictors."
"For the glory of the Relictors!" Melkonis replied, "For the Emperor!"
Caiphus looked blankly at his battle-brother, then returned to the ancient text upon the altar.
Melkonis lingered for a moment, overwhelmed with doubt and confusion over his captain's growing distance.
As he left the dark sanctum he overheard Caiphus reading quietly to himself, "and no man looked then... save those whom serve that which they hate..."
* * *
Mangled corpses littered the ground. Twisted bones of mutant scum, horns and hooves of beastmen and the smashed power armour of glory-seeking renegades all lay together, equal in death.
The blasted, battle scarred surface of Phaedron was little more than a grave for the foolish, the slaves to darkness, the lost and the damned, all drawn to the fabled power within the temple that stood, ancient and unassuming, little more than a hundred yards away from Sklaw.
The trek had claimed the lives of his entire warband, but they mattered not, they were unworthy, tools for Sklaw to use in the name of the great deciever, his master, Tzeentch.
Sklaw stood for a moment, tall and proud in his ornate power armour of black and faded green-grey. The former Warp Ghost had spent what seemed like a century slaughtering everything that crossed his path towards this victory, or perhaps it had only been a day since he arrived on Phaedron? Time had a will of its own in the Eye of Terror. It dilated and contracted, spewing hours and consuming years like some mad living entity.
Sklaw flexed his mighty powerfist and stode purposefully towards the temple, each step taken leaving a multi-coloured swirling footprint on the barren earth. Stood in the doorway, Sklaw could see a figure clad in black. Another renegade Astartes, another fool to be cushed. so much the better.
"Who dare approach the sanctuary of The One?" spoke the black-armoured marine with defiance and conviction.
The One? Sklaw had never heard that before. Perhaps it was the marine's own curious term for the powers of undivided Chaos. It made little difference, he would soon be dead. Sklaw unholstered his bolt pistol as he drew closer.
"Who dare approach the sanctuary of The One?" the marine repeated as he slowly raised an ancient looking boltgun.
Now only a few yards from the doorway, Sklaw noticed the apparent antiquity of the marine's jet-black power armour; it was the heavy looking mark three power armour, or 'iron armour' as he had heard it called. It barely looked a day old.
"Those who oppose me die!" yelled Sklaw as he charged forward, snapping of two rounds from his bolt pistol. The shots seemed to ping harmlessly off of the heavy grilled faceplate of the black marine who wasted no time in returnng fire, smashing a round into Sklaw's chest.
Multi-coloured blood sprayed outwards, the wound knocking Sklaw back as its severity and impact caught him by surprise.
"Be gone, herald of change" announced the defiant Astartes, standing his ground.
Sklaw tossed asside his pistol and reached to clutch his chest in disbelief.
"You will not deny me my destiny!" he squealed in rage, swinging his powerfist. The blow would have breached a ceramtie wall thicker than the black-armoured marine, but for the discharge and crackling halo of energy, no sign that any damage had been inflicted registered upon the indomitable guardian.
"Your destiny is to die here, now, Sklaw of the Warp Ghosts," the black-armoured marine said, totally unphased by his attacker. The cold matter-of-fact declaration hit Sklaw like an avalanche. He heard a faint whispering on the wind which seemed to mock him as he realised the black-armoured marine was choking him to death.
Sklaw felt his strength sliping away as his opponent lifted him from the ground to stare up into his face. The emptiness and horror in the depths of the black-armoured marine's eyes was the last thing the Sklaw, champion of Tzeentch, ever saw.
"So it was written, so it is done" said the black marine as he dropped Sklaw's limp body and returned, statuesque, to his place infront of the door to the temple.
* * *