Holier Than Thou Part 1
Sor’Talla leaped out of the mouth of the cave, just barely outrunning the destructive energies that had chased him out of the tunnel ridden cave.
Around him mortal humans ran as well, although dozens had already died, unable to get out fast enough and escape the destruction. They died screaming in pain, not welcoming the crossing of the threshold of death they were partaking in. Sor’Talla was disgusted by them.
Hitting the hard rocky ground, still smoldering with flames from the onslaught just hours before, Sor’Talla tucked in his arms and allowed the slope to roll him to safety.
In brief flashes Sor’Talla saw more of Kor’Farrah’s troops coming in on Navy troop landers and securing a drop site that would no longer be used for an extermination like planned.
Sor’Talla stopped rolling and was back on his feet in moments.
The Word Bear looked upon the small mountain that had just caused him so much pain and anger.
Sor’Talla grabbed his helmet and tore it off, ripping the void locks on it. As invisible energies ripped out sides of the mountain and rocks and chunks of the earth exploded outward Sor’Talla roared his anger and hate as his quarry was denied him and the chances of fulfilling his master’s task seemed nil.
It took only minutes for the mountain to finally collapse in destruction. By then over eight hundred mortal soldiers under Kor’Farrah had formed up into eight ranks, eight men deep each.
Sor’Talla rolled his eyes in disgust. Kor’Farrah was a sycophant who knew nothing of the holy powers beyond the veil of the warp.
A young captain broke from the ranks and ran up to him.
‘My lord Astartes, what happened?’
A backhand slap that took the man’s head off his shoulders was not what he had in mind for an answer. The body crumpled to the ground and blood poured out of the space where the neck should be, but wasn’t. Sor’Talla looked at it in detachment, noticing how the blood mixed with the dirt and dust and thickened.
‘You have failed us!’ shouted a voice.
Sor’Talla looked up from the corpse.
The sycophant had arrived.
Stopping just far enough away to be heard, Kor’Farrah held his ground behind an armed guard of twenty men from the Colchis Royal Guard.
‘I charged you with uncovering the weapon, and you have failed. But not only have you failed me, you failed our master, the blessed Primarch Lorgar,’
Sor’Talla’s right hand moved smoothly down to the combat knives strapped to his leg.
‘You seem to be under the delusions you suffer again,’ he said to the General.
‘I am not delusional, you have failed and it clouds your minds. I will return to the base now, and I will report you to the Primarch,’
Kor’Farrah turned and began walking back to his personal transport.
‘Instruct the men to return to base, from there we will go back to the fleet and return to the Primarch,’ the General said to his adjutant.
‘Yes my lord,’ said the young man.
Around them the companies of men from several different regiments began filing back into their landing craft.
‘What should we do with the Astartes my lord?’ asked the adjutant.
‘We leave him, he is of no more use to me. When we take off I will order the pilot to fire the defense missiles on his thunderhawk,’
‘Yes s-‘started the adjutant before the blade of a knife stabbed through his neck and blood sprayed out of his jugular.
The General turned around and saw Sor’Talla standing sideways, with his arm out and hand empty.
‘Kill him now!’ he shouted and hundreds of lasguns turned on the Word Bearer.
Sor’Talla hooked his foot under the corpse of the man he killed just minutes before and kicked it up, grabbing the back. Astartes physiology allowed him to do this before the soldiers fired and he used it as a shield against the las-fire.
The body was vaporized almost immediately, but not before Sor’Talla managed to rip the officer’s grenade strap off his hip and flung it into the crowd of soldiers.
Ducking low Sot’Talla trusted his enhanced body to move him faster than the humans could aim as he ran. The explosion of the grenade belt was like an event barely worthy of notice to him when it happened. All he knew was that he had no ranged weapons, and that to charge the General with nothing but a combat knife was to die.
Dimly, at the edge of his awareness he heard a voice shout “forget him, just get to your landers!”. It was the General, no one else on this world would command with such cowardness.
Sor’Talla spotted a boulder from the destruction of the mountain dived behind it.
The marine hunched down behind the boulder and drew his knife, holding it in a reverse grip. He felt the impact of two fragmentation grenades on the other side of the boulder and a few las-shots impacted the earth on either side of him.
A few minutes of waiting was all the Astartes suffered before he heard the whining of VTOL aircraft taking off.
Peeking over the rock Sor’Talla watched as dozens of ships took off. He noticed as one, more decorated than the others, hovered lower than the rest. He watched as the vessel shifted in the direction of the Thunderhawk he had come to this damn place in.
With a mechanical whine a missile cylinder lowered itself from the hull of the ship and aimed at the hull. The rear end of the cylinder vented steam and two long and sleek missiles rocketed from the ship.
The missiles slammed into the hull of the blood red Thunderwak and tore the metal open like it was only so much scrap.
‘No!’ shouted Sor’Talla, and the General’s aircraft turned around in the sky, and went to join the rest, taking place in the middle of the formation.
Secondary explosions went off when the flames reached the munitions on the Thunderhawk, reducing it to even less scrap.
Sor’Talla roared his anger at the sky once more.
It was several hours before the Astates gathered himself. Locked away within his mind his sense of purpose had retreated, allowing rage to consume his body. He had torn apart Kor’Farrah’s head a thousand time in his mind. He had butchered every single mortal on this world a million times in his imagination. But that would get him nowhere. So he prioritized.
First he came to the conclusion that to return to the legion empty handed in defeat would be a death warrant, and worse, that his soul would become the plaything for the lesser denizens of the warp, a place he was determined to hold his own court in.
Thus he realized that he must both kill the bastard General, and accomplish his task.
But he knew he could not do this alone.
Recalling the sacred rituals he had been taught within the warrior lodges he sat upon the ground, resting on his knees.
Closing his eyes he leaned forward and with the tip of his right index finger drew a circle around himself, leaving no gaps.
Next he took his combat knife and cut across his wrist and poured his life blood into the channel in the dirt and dust, flexing the joint so the blood would not clog.
When he was surrounded by a circle of blood he once more took his finger and carved a line down the circle across the middle. Then another, intersecting it.
Two more lines he drew, making the sacred eight pointed star design.
Angels of the aether come to me… he whispered, eyes shut tight. Nothing happened, save the wind picked up just enough to be noticed.
Again and again he chanted the mantra, summoning the entities from beyond reality.
Angels of the aether come to me and show me the way… he whispered for hours.
When darkness fell and the heat of the desert turned to the cold of the wasteland Sor’Talla had just about given up hope of an answer before he felt something behind him.
‘Kohrne’s raging balls you mortals are fickle. Just because I don’t come the second you call you assume I’m ignoring you. Are you not aware there are other, bigger, more interesting things, going on right now? Do you have any idea how fun the Isstvan system is about to get?’ asked the daemon.
‘It is good to see you to friend,’ said Sor’Talla, rising to his feet.
‘What do you want this time Talla?’
‘I need to fulfill my lord’s command, and kill a traitor,’ the marine stated simply.
‘Well for the second part all you have to do is slit your own throat,’ said the daemon.
‘We were the betrayed as you know damn well,’ said Sor’Talla.
‘Whatever you say. So what makes you think I can, or even should, drop everything I’m dealing with and focus on your problem?’
‘I know your name,’
‘Well now that is cold,’
‘A bit more willing now?’
‘I never was unwilling, just wondering why I should. So cut to the chase, what do you need me for?’
‘You always enjoyed slaughtering those who think they follow the true word but could never understand it, its what I aim to do, but first I have to get somewhere,’
‘I know what you have in mind, and I’ll do it. Just answer m this: Do you care that long term exposure to the raw warp will mutate you into something your Primarch would hunt for sport? Something driven insane beyond repair and will never again retain cognitive function?’
‘I don’t give a shit, all I have is my own duty right now,’
‘Okay good, in that case there is a younger lad, in the circle of men you killed earlier with that grenade belt, he’s been unconscious for some time now. We’ll need him,’
Cargo lifters picked up crates of munitions, fuel and other supplies for easier packaging into bulk Navy landers, speeding up the process of repackaging the entire pre-fab base for transport.
Kor’Farrah didn’t care how much faster the process went because of the machines, he wanted off this planet, it and the task he’d been assigned was a dead end, all because Sor’Talla disobeyed his orders. At least that’s how the report would go.
The General was distracted from his thoughts as the crack, boom and blinding flash of thunder and lightning raped the night sky.
Thousands of men looked up from their tasks, this was something they’d not encountered on this world below.
‘Get back to your work,’ commanded Kor’Farrah.
The men did not need to be told twice.
Men outside the walls hurried even faster to get equipment back inside the security of the base. They, men of a dozen campaigns were spooked, and it wasn’t the strange weather. There was something else out there.
‘A bit much don’t you think?’ asked Sor’Talla, standing on a cliff not far from the base, his armor dulled by the dust, one hand holding his combat knife and the other holding the human soldier slung over his shoulder,’
‘Said “Mr. I’m going to burn down this village with a couple hand flamers”?’ mocked the daemon.
‘When was that?’ the Astartes asked.
‘Colchis, during the cleansing. Don’t you remember?’
‘Oh yes that’s right. As I recall it was you who talked me into it,’
‘You were so easy to persuade back then,’
‘Let’s get on with this,’ said Sor’Talla.
‘Yes, is he still alive?’
The man, barely into his twenties, groaned in pain.
‘Good, now sacrifice him,’
‘This isn’t my first blood missile Cherb,’ said Sot’Talla, pronouncing the first syllable of the daemon’s name.
‘Now I remember why we hate each other,’ said the daemon, ‘well go ahead and do it if you know how then’ he added offhand.
The howl split the night like a dagger in an unsuspecting dreamer’s back.
From the bowls of hell the blood missile streaked across the landscape, leaving a trail of blood that burned like fire.
To it the walls built by mortal hands were nothing, and it tore a hole in reality through them before pouncing on the men within.
Men fired on the hell thing with their weapons, expending solid and las-fire, hitting nothing but the air the blood missile occupied moments before.
Blazing like a comet through the camp the blood missile claimed its first victim, a young corporal who’d never set foot on another world before coming here.
Clamping its jaws around his head the warp creature bit down and was rewarded with a sickening crunch, which was all it needed.
Exsanguinating the newly dead body the blood missile sucked the man dry and gorged itself on the red liquid it prized so dearly.
Men watched in horror as the blood missile doubled in size and took on a more wolf like visage than it had before.
It’s jaws elongated and rows of razor sharp teeth jutted out in all directions.
Spiked speared out of its flesh between it’s shoulders and it’s legs, already long stretched out further.
Letting loose a blood curdling cry into the night air the blood missile once more pounced on the defenders and resumed its blood feast.
‘Isn’t this fun?’ said the daemon to Sor’Talla.
Both were still standing on the cliff, watching the base from a distance. Sor’Talla’s face was lit up when the blood missile’s reign of havoc started a fire and touched off an explosion.
The dried out corpse of the mortal human lay next to the, face pale and stretched out in pain and horror.
‘It is the means to my end,’
‘In more ways than one,’ whispered the daemon.
‘When will this be done?’
Kor’Farrah showed men aside, pushing them down as they got in his path.
‘Kill the creature!’ he shouted, sending more of his men down the opposite way, towards the screams of death.
One young soldier tried to slip past him to get to the landers, which were resting on landing pads just ahead of them.
‘Get back there!’ shouted Kor’Farrah, grabbing the soldier’s uniform by the back of the neck and jerking back.
Around him his guard tried to clear space for the General.
‘Clear me a path!’ shouted Kor’Farrah as another explosion boomed behind them.
The guard detail lowered their hellguns and fired into the crowd of men before them, sending twenty to their deaths in the first volley.
‘Get me to my lander!’ the General shouted.
Sor’Talla and the daemon watched as a series of explosions ripped the command bastion apart, opening its levels to the air outside.
A shape flew over the explosion, only visible because of the reflection it gave off.
‘Potent aren’t they, blood missiles. Especially when they have so much fuel to feed on,’ said the daemon, smiling.
‘That was Kor’Farrah’s personal lander,’ said Sor’Talla.
‘What do you want me to do about it?’ asked the daemon
The Astartes glared at him.
‘Oh all right,’ said the warp being.
With a wave of it’s hand a rift was tore into the fabric of reality once more.
Sor’Talla stepped into the warp once more, and was engulfed by madness.
Cleansing his mind of all thought Sor’Talla let the currents of the warp take him where he needed to go.
Screaming all around him the sounds of life and death tore at his ears and clawed their way to his brain.
Keeping his eyes shut tight Sor’Talla kept the raw energies of unreality away from the soft flesh of his mind.
Something brushed up against Sor’Talla, like skin made of water, or some other liquid and the marine could feel it caress his body before letting go.
Behind the thin slices of skin that were his eye lids Sor’Talla could not see the fine details of the things that swam around him, brushed up against his flesh. He could see the colors of the warp, at once every color in creation and at the same time none at all.
The screams intensified as Sor’Talla felt the pull of the warp growing stronger and stronger before throwing up on the command deck of an Imperial Navy vessel in orbit above the planet that had brought him so much anger and grief.
The crew stared at this new comer in shock, some letting their mouths fall open.
Sor’Talla rose to his feet and stared at the mortals.
‘I am commandeering this ship in the name of the blessed Primarch Lorgar from the hands his disloyal and dishonest servant General Kor’Farrah. You will follow my orders and if need be die trying or I will rip your head from your shoulders and suck the corpse dry, is that clear?’
The crew nodded.
Finished: Too Much Love Will Kill You (working title), an original fiction novel. Working on: Second draft of Too Much Love, and the first draft of A Winter's Tale (working title).