At the End of All Things
At the End of All Things
An Iron Diamond Space Marines short story
By: David Ploss ‘Commissar Ploss’
Waking from the daemon-grip of death’s hands is never a welcome instance. Being the only one to do so, is even less.
Gazing through the cracked lenses of his helmet, brother Vicarus viewed the world as a grey haze. A faint rasp emitted from his augmetic voice box as he realized he had just tried to chuckle. Viewing the sky above him from the bottom of an impact crater all too ironically displayed the gravity of the situation. The air was acrid with the smell of burning promethium and the stench of boiled flesh, and his auditory sensors picked up the faint crackle of a fire not fifty meters off. Upon waking just moments before, his brain had been flooded with strong signals from pain receptors all throughout his body. He laid still, eyes closed, as his bodies advanced chemistry coped with the initial rush. He felt not the usual instinct to move, just the overwhelming feeling that this probably was not the best place to be. Not only was it quite uncomfortable, but he needed to rejoin the fight.
Sitting up would have to be the first step. Using his arms, he attempted to hoist himself up into a sitting position, but noticed quite frustratingly that he could not gain any purchase. With blurred vision he looked down, noting the stump that used to be his right hand. Even though it had already healed to the point of what looked like an Ork's anus, he realized that any similar injury could turn this little crater into his final resting place. Wearily he glanced at all his other major limbs and allowed himself a chuckle at the fact that only his right hand, the ‘Right hand of Angarius,’ the most feared hand in all his home world—second only to that of their primarch— ‘the hand that smote one thousand Orks,’ was gone. Gone and never to be seen again. Sure, an augmetic replacement would be fitted the moment he returned, but only to serve as an artificial reminder of its former glory, and the shame he carried with it's loss. Just considering what his battle brothers would say was enough to start him laughing maniacally. That was if any of them were still alive.
There was no use reminiscing. Right now he needed to get to the surface and reestablish contact with the rest of his unit and if need be, rejoin his battle brothers without his right hand. Or his sidearm for that matter. A quick glance to either side showed that his holy plasma weapon was nowhere to be seen. He took great pride in his weapon, as so many of his brethren did. And to see that it was gone, just as simply as his hand, infuriated him. He would die for the Emperor at the wave of a hand, but without his weapons his life felt meaningless. Brother Vicarus reminded himself that if he was not removed from his tranquil little hole, his now meaningless life would be all that much shorter. That did not sit well at all. He swore that he would see out his remaining days in service to the Emperor.
With his remaining helmet lens, brother Vicarus queued his com-link. The signal strength read zero. He hoped it was due in part to his subterranean nature, that the com-link in his helmet was not receiving a signal from the main vox towers. However, as close to the surface as he was... The growing sense of dread welling inside, told him he knew otherwise. He sat back to catch his breath before continuing and only now smelled the metallic tang of iron wafting from the fluid surrounding his body. He knew right away that the liquid was not just fluid from his powered armor systems but something much more important.
With the threat of an unfulfilling death clear in his mind, he mustered up all the strength in his remaining three limbs and began his climb to the surface. Climbing in the soil, and Emperor knows what else, is difficult with only one arm to steady yourself. And having vital signs flirting on and around the verge of death made it even more difficult. It took all of twelve minutes for him to make it to the rim of his crater. To brother Vicarus it seemed as if hours had passed. He paused before breaking the surface to take a moment and steady himself against the onrush of sensory perception that he would receive upon gazing at the surrounding battlefield. Down in the hole, Emperor be praised, there was nothing more than dirt, green Ork flesh and small metal fragments. But across the vastness of the surface battlefield there were many more things to see. He braced himself for what the silence told him would not be a welcome sight.
With a sigh, brother Vicarus stepped out of his crater - and into hell.
The scene that greeted his already weary eyes destroyed him. He fell to his knees and wept. All around lay the remnants of a world destroyed by war. Mangled corpses, charred metal, and the smoldering wrecks of war machines lay broken forever in all directions. Friend and foe alike lay as if battles were still raging wherever their spirits had ascended. With cracked lips and through streaming tears, brother Vicarus let out a roar so seething with rage and desperation, it would have made Emperor himself cower in fear. Removing his helmet, he stood. As if in defiance to his survival, the wind howled and the rain began to fall as if to wash away the death that consumed its planet. At this he laughed, and then said with a sigh, almost inaudible against the rain and wind, "It seems i have been left behind, and my brothers march without me." With rain mixing with the tears down his cheeks, brother Vicarus somehow knew he was the last of his chapter. The Iron Diamond Space Marines would be no more. Their name would be forgotten, and their history untold.
Whistling an old Imperial hymn, and accompanied by only the wind and pelting rain, he felt minuscule and insignificant. The work had been done. Lives had been payed in full. Oaths had been fulfilled and creeds had been upheld. But for what? "For the Emperor," he said to himself, hoping beyond hope that that was justification enough.
Turning around, he spotted his crater. As if in thanks, he bowed to it, and said, "You have saved me. By the Emperor, you have saved me. Please refrain from doing it again."
And with that, brother Vicarus turned away. And with a deep breath, he began to walk. There at the end of all things. He walked for a lost cause, across a forgotten field, on a nameless world. For none would know, save the Emperor himself, how he longed for peace.
Last edited by Commissar Ploss; 08-30-10 at 05:41 AM.