Death of a Guardsman
He was floating in the void alone. He could feel his body aimlessly floating. Even if it were for a few seconds he was at peace in the best dream of his life. A airburst over the bunker woke up him and he could see the falling embers raining on their position. But a secondary explosion brought him up to a crouch as he grabbed his lasgun and slammed hard, back first, into the dirty, gore caked bunker wall. A guardsman was manning the emplacement while another took shots at the enemy with his lasgun in between loading ammunition for the turret. Rounds skidded across the face of the bunker forcing them to take cover.
“Looks like you broke the comm. Nice job.” The guardsman said shaking his head.
“Frag the comms they haven’t worked for weeks.” The operator yelled over the gun-fire.
The man shrugged and turned to fire back at the enemy. A round struck him in the head, his helmet providing no safety. Pieces of it lay on the ground and blood covered the guard next to him. Blood soaked and battered the gunner strapped his fallen comrade’s lasgun to his back and glanced at the shocked comms operator. He stared at him for a second and threw the lasgun to him along with a few clips before retreating from the bunker. He was smart…the positions would be overrun in a few minutes. A few steps away from the position and the ground underneath him exploded, sending gore into the dark grey sky.
He was anxious now. Comms were down and he was alone for all he knew. Across the hill-top the bunker where his friend had been stationed was being destroyed. A giant in blood red power armor thrashed his way through piles of flesh. His horned helmet gleamed in the carnage. Yells to his left broke his gaze of the Tainted Astartes as more immediate danger presented itself. He peered over the sandbags with his lasgun ready. Down the hill, where gaunt looking heretics rushed up the hill screaming curses and firing their bolt-pistols and stubbers at the trench, gore and limbs filled the craters where artillery, of the enemy, had met its mark just a few feet short. He was a guardsman…not a thinker.
They were sent like sheep into the grinder for what? Some forsaken Emperor cursed world? But at that moment he had the realization. If he retreated from the bunker he would either get eaten up by hails of gunfire, quickly obliterated by artillery, or hunted down like an animal. Even his own commissar would cut him down if he retreated. What was he living for anyways? After the founding he and his new guards dreamt of glorious conquest and having their names echoed in the histories of their worlds. His death would be meaningless but it was important only for the Emperor. Where the hell is the Emperor? He sure isn’t standing in this hole fighting with me. The Inquisition wasn’t coming to destroy him for heresy. There was only this situation and the only outcome was death.
If he was going to die he would die fighting. To his horror his clip was empty after four shots. None had hit the target and he screamed curses at himself. Hours ago he had forgotten to reload his clip after the last skirmish. Thankfully the backup would work and he tossed the empty gun away while he fell back to the rear of the bunker. As soon as he saw the head-dress of one of the heretics he emptied two rounds into the thing’s face, knocking him back, as more came into view.
Between the frantic shots of his gun a nearly silent splash caught his attention. Time slowed down. He knew that a grenade had landed close to him. He might as well relish these last few seconds fighting the great enemy. Maybe the Emperor would protect him after all. The blast threw him across the bunker, whiplashing his head violently. His vision blurred…he managed to glance down at the bloody stubs where his legs had been and groaned in agony. His remaining hand flopped around on his chest where the burning sensation was.
He felt that he still had his necklace, the fang of a predator of his home world. Shrapnel had gorged itself deep into his flesh underneath the fangs reach. He had always thought flak armor was worthless. A cold feeling crept up his torso and he quickly began to lose feeling in his body or what remained of it. His throat had begun to fill with blood but he couldn’t move his mouth. At least he couldn’t feel anything. The heretics rushed over the sandbags and shook violently in triumph.
Across the hill the red giant had finished his slaughter and raised his chainsword in the air. More red giants crested the hill and fired off into the distance, out of view. One of the heretics approached the man. The last few seconds of his existence were spent looking into the eyes of the enemy. The enemy he had feared his entire life. The enemy he and his guard had been fighting for months. Somewhere in the sector, unknown to the command of the Lexxian 9th Regiment, a guardsman had died. Thousands of his brothers had fallen fighting the enemies of the Imperium. Somewhere, a candle light was extinguished amongst the black backdrop, and more took its place.
"You do not need to look to the stars to find the greatest obstacle this Conclave faces, my brothers. Simply gaze around this room and you will find such a sea of discord as to make your foes cackle with glee." - Inquisitor Eistus Gracker in address to the Calixian Conclave
"There are dark pitted corners of our universe that have bred the most unfathomable horrors and blasphemies that would burn and blind the sanest man. Fortunately sanity has never been a prerequisite of membership in the Holy Ordos." - Inquisitor Silas Marr