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Boc 05-08-13 05:47 AM

Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories 13-05: Treachery

For those of you that are unfamiliar with HOES, here's how it works:

Each month, there will be a thread posted in the Original Works forum for that month's HOES competition. For those of you interested in entering, read the entry requirements, write a story that fits the chosen theme and post it as a reply to the competition thread by the deadline given. Each and every member of Heresy Online is more than welcome to compete, whether your entry is your first post or your thousandth. We welcome everyone to join the family of the Fan Fiction Forum.

Once the deadline has passed, a separate voting thread will be posted, where the readers and writers can post their votes for the top three stories. Points will be awarded (3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd) for each vote cast, totalled at the closure of the voting window, and a winner will be announced. The winner will have his/her story added to the Winning HOES thread and be awarded the Lexicanum's Crest award for Fiction excellence!


The idea with the theme is that it should serve as the inspiration for your stories rather than a constraint. While creative thinking is most certainly encouraged, the theme should still be relevant to your finished story. The chosen theme can be applied within the WH40K, WHF, HH, and even your own completely original works (though keep in mind, this IS a Warhammer forum) but there will be no bias as to which setting is used for your story.

As far as the theme goes, please feel free with future competitions to contact me with your ideas/proposals, especially given that my creative juices may flow a bit differently than yours. All I ask is that you PM me your ideas rather than posting them into the official competition entry/voting threads to keep posts there relevant to the current competition.

Word Count

The official word count for this competition will be 1,000 words. There will be a 10% allowance in this limit, essentially giving you a 900-1,100 word range with which to tell your tale. This is non-negotiable. This is an Expeditious Story competition, not an Epic Story nor an Infinitesimal Story competition. If you are going to go over or under the 900-1,100 word limit, you need to rework your story. It is not fair to the other entrants if one does not abide by the rules. If you cannot, feel free to PM me with what you have and I'll give suggestions or ideas as to how to broaden or shorten your story.

Each entry must have a word count posted with it. Expect a reasonably cordial PM from me (and likely some responses in the competition thread) if you fail to adhere to this rule. The word count can be annotated either at the beginning or ending of your story, and does not need to include your title.

Without further ado...

The theme for this month's competition is:


Entries should be posted in this thread, along with any comments that the readers may want to give (and comments on stories are certainly encouraged in both the competition and voting threads!) 40K, 30K, WHF, and original universes are all permitted (please note, this excludes topics such as Halo, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, or any other non-original and non-Warhammer settings). Keep in mind, comments are more than welcome! If you catch grammar or spelling errors, the writers are all more than free to edit their piece up until the close of the competition, and that final work will be the one considered for voting. Sharing your thoughts with the writers as they come up with their works is a great way to help us, as a FanFiction community, grow as a whole.

The deadline for entries is Midnight US Eastern Standard Time
(-5.00 hours for you UK folks)Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Voting will be held from 30 May - 05 June. Remember, getting your story submitted on May 10th will be just as considered by others as one submitted on May 28th! Take as much time as you need to work on your piece! As a change from previous challenges, any entries submitted past the deadline will not be considered in the competition, regardless of whether the voting thread is posted or not.

Additional Incentive
If simply being victorious over your comrades is not enough to possess you to write a story, there will be rep rewards granted to those that participate in the HOES Challenge.

Participation - 1 reputation points, everyone will receive this
3rd place - 2 reputation points
2nd place - 3 reputation points
1st place - 4 reputation points and Lexicanum's Crest

If you have any questions, feel free to either PM me or ask in this thread.

Without further nonsense from me, let the writing begin!


Table of Contents

Lord of the Night - He Who Betrays First

Firemahlazer - Web of Uncertainties

Jonileth - The Price of Freedom

Romero's Own - Traitor

Liliedhe - Out, Damn Spot...

Adrian - Time to Hunt the Men!

andygorn 05-08-13 06:07 AM

This is one of the themes which keeps coming into my mind for some reason, so I'll try to have a crack at this.
However, no guarantees that my transcription will get anywhere apart from at the bottom of the list (lol).

Boc 05-08-13 06:09 AM

Lol hopefully I'll actually get something written this month... I think it's been about 2 years since I even participated in my own competition >.<

Lord of the Night 05-08-13 10:14 AM

151 Attachment(s)
He Who Betrays First

The air was alive with bolter fire and the screams of the dying, both exhorting and plaintative. The streets of Serus III's primary shrine-city were being torn apart by the gods of war raging in them, clad in crimson armour chased with leaf of gold script scrimshawed across each plate of metal and festooned with bloody spikes. The Word Bearers had come to Serus III, their only goal to destroy the bastion of the hated God-Emperor that lay before them. The Adepta Sororitas, daughters of the Emperor, bled and died in the streets to hold them back. Only a single fortress still stood, the primary cathedral-shrine of the planet, and thus far the Word Bearers were stalled as the guns of the shrine kept them back.

"This delay is unacceptable! The gods will not wait for your competence to reveal itself!" Gar Kaloth, Dark Apostle of the Word and Speaker of Litanies, raged at his assembled champions. Each had burned worlds for the Word of Lorgar, and yet now a simple shrine was stopping them. That the shrine was protected by an impenetrable four layers of void shielding meant nothing to the gods, they had been promised the prize and it would be theirs.

"And now we must rely on heathens, degenerate scum to do what you supposed Champions of the Word could not!" Gar Kaloth's anger was almost visible. His men had failed to crack the shield wall, that the whores of the Emperor known as the Sororitas had pushed them back was an intolerable offense to both his pride and the word of his blessed Daemon-Primarch. That outsiders were required to finish this affair was salt in the wound.

"Amussssing." Gar Kaloth looked up at the disturbance, his champions bringing to bear bolters and blades at the new arrival. Clinging to the ceiling of the debased shrine the Word Bearers had based themselves in was a figure in power armour of midnight blue. His feet were taloned like a bird's, and his helmet was cast in the image of a bird of prey. Crackles of lightning danced across his frame, the two lightning claws that flexed slowly as he hung inverted, only his talons keeping him attached to the ceiling.

Arkannis of the Soulrenders chuckled as he observed the groundwalkers below him bicker and insult his brethren. If their opinions had been something that mattered to him, he might have cared, but they were not and he did not. His Raptors were to do what these worms had failed to do and destroy the void shields protecting Serus III's final shrine-hold. He could sense the Word Bearer lord's hate of him, and as the maggot laid out his plan Arkannis was sure of two things. This would be child's play for his warband, and that the Word Bearers would betray him as soon as they could.

Arkannis hissed as his lightning claw gutted the frail woman. Her bastardised power armour was no match for the ancient weapons. As she fell, bleating some prayer to the corpse-king, his brothers dispatched the rest of the herd. They had landed among the scum only seconds before, catching them unaware as they made their way into the first vent shaft. The void shields were impenetrable to artillery and the Word Bearers couldn't advance through without the main guns of the stronghold firing on them, but the Soulrenders could. Arkannis and twelve of his brothers loped into the vent, big enough to permit entry to their immense forms.

"You know what to do, go!" he snarled. Shon Kel nodded, bobbing his head up and down three times, before scurrying off with five others in another direction. Arkannis hissed, so far so good. As he led the Soulrenders further he wondered how Krixus was doing, he should be nearing his target by now and once he had achieved his goal the Soulrenders could retreat and leave this place to the bastard Sons of Lorgar.

Not long after they entered the vents Arkannis cut a hole in the wall and entered into a colossal chamber. The generators that lined the walls hummed with barely restrained energy, all of it feeding the guns that kept the Word Bearers from advancing. The Apostle's plan was to mine this place with charges and destroy it, but Arkannis had a better plan. Though he doubted Gar Kaloth would agree that it was better.

Gar Kaloth grinned as he watched the void shields flicker and die. The scum Raptors had done their job, and now all that was left was to destroy them. The cannons that lined the walls of the shrine fell silent, and the despair of the Sisters of Battle was a delight to his depraved senses. Now all that remained was to destroy both of the wretches, the Sisters would die under the bootheels of his men and the Raptors would be gunned down as soon as they tried to leave the vents. Nodding to his champions the march began, over 500 Word Bearers advanced under the chanting dirge of hovering servo-skulls and robed cultists that marched with them.

Suddenly his vox flared to life, the sounds of death and roaring chainblades coming in clearly. He could hear bolter fire as well, his own men were under attack. But all the Sisters and Raptors were in the stronghold!

"Lord it's the Raptors! The scum flanked us, their attacking the armouries and stealing everything. We're trying to hold them back but!-"

Gar Kaloth roared in anger as the vox cut out, the sound of a chainblade skewering his master of arms was the first sign that he had been betrayed. The second was when the guns of the shrine-hold came to life again and annihilated his position in a storm of lascannon and missile fire. Gar Kaloth died realising he had underestimated his opponent.

Arkannis smiled as he watched Krixus present the spoils. His second had led a second group of Raptors, their goal to pillage the Word Bearer armouries and extract payment that he knew the whoresons would never have given freely. Disabling the guns temporarily had given the Word Bearers bravery enough to advance, and reactivating them had ensured their destruction. Detonating the hidden charges that Shon Kel had planted on the Sororitas's supply of demolitions, turning the shrine into a crater in the process, had given them free reign to pillage and enslave the entire planet.

Arkannis laughed as he thought of Gar Kaloth's plan to betray them. The Word Bearer had forgotten something very simply about betrayal. He who betrays first, lives.


gothik 05-08-13 07:20 PM

think i will be able to have a go at this one...the last couple had me foxed....blast you and your devious mind Boc lol

Myen'Tal 05-09-13 02:34 AM

Web of Uncertainties

Word Count: 1,097 w/ Title

“The answer Eldar really seek lies in being able to discern the difference in what is fate and what is merely dire misfortune. Promise me you’ll know when the time comes.”

“Betrayer! Outcast! You are no kin of mine!” Reiko’s words were dripping with controlled venom, her expression a mix of scorn and desperation. The eldest of the twin Howling Banshees recalled her deceased father’s words dangling from a sharp precipice of an anti-grav disc meant to ferry members of the council from one entrance of the crystal dome to another.

Beneath her was an unmeasurable drop deep into the abyss that lingered beneath, where it led to, Reiko could not fathom, but it would certainly hold the somber embrace of death. Where utter blackness should be, an ocean of balefire and writhing bodies that burned, but never turned to ash seethed restlessly. She couldn’t bear to look down into their haunting eyes, it would strike uncontrollable fear in her and that was the last thing she needed in this moment. She clung steadfastly onto the platform with armored fingers, thanking Isha that it wasn’t her sweat slick skin keeping her from the warp she feared so irrationally.

Glaring down upon her struggling form with a disapproving frown and uncompassionate eyes, her younger sister Lhadu knelt down in her armor to finally address her. She gently brought one end of her executioner mere inches away from her elder sister’s right eye, a loving smirk doing little to hide the cruel intent of her eyes.

“They have all gone, any Eldar with a functioning brain would have left this abhorrent place far before the warp storm had ever engulfed the Craftworld. Why then, am I not surprised to be finding you within the Crystalline Dome? Why shed tears over our prison, which has held everything that make the Eldar superior above any lesser life in check since our birth?”

“Are you insane!? The Aspect Warriors haven’t given up on our only home and neither has the council!” Lhadu’s smug grin flared Reiko’s temper and made her veins bulge through her pallid skin. “You helped create this, under the Seer’s noses, bastard child! What darkness have you given yourself to? She who Thirsts or perhaps the Dark Kin are behind this heinous slaughter!?”

“That, my sister, is something you’ll never know…” Lhadu’s words suddenly trailed off, leaving Reiko’s blood to run cold as she raised her unpowered blade for decapitation.

The hellfire that blazed endlessly below her suddenly belched powerful gusts of ether in that moment, causing Reiko to grimace as her soul stone began to burn fiercely upon her chest. The wave of heat washed over her as the blade inevitably came down to part her head from her body, hitting with such force that the platform began to wobble unstably in the backlash. Lhadu’s stance faltered and suddenly the platform dipped backwards, causing her to slide back in a free fall. The balance of the platform lifted Reiko just enough that she was able to throw herself over the lip moments before the anti-grav disc began to stabilize.

Her younger sister easily recovered, carving her halberd deep into the disc until she halted in her fall. She naturally came into a kneeling position when the platform up righted itself, coming face to face with the mirror image of her elder twin.

“Answer me!” Reiko unsheathed her pair of mirror swords and bounded across the platforms within the space of a heartbeat. She lacked her banshee’s mask, but her defiant roar was long and proud, bringing her blades into a closing x around Lhadu’s waist. Her younger sister jerked her blade free and leaped backwards with a quick spin, easily knocking both blades away from her. The elder twin braced herself against the onslaught her sister unleashed with desperate ripostes and retracing of her previous steps.

Lhadu unleashed an unearthly scream, continuing her barrage of lightning attacks against Reiko’s dodgy form. She struck blindly against one of her swords, pulled back in a sudden reverse and stabbed in with the blunt end of her weapon. The opposite end of the pole-arm slammed into the thin armor around Reiko’s stomach, knocking her off her feet and sending her skidding back towards the edge of the platform.

With well-timed practice, she utilized her legs into a twirl and came back up to her feet in a fluid movement. She came mere feet away from Lhadu before taking up a combat form. Her younger sister did as well, cruel eyes glinting with a hint of hidden pride at her sibling’s inner strength.

“Are you not even going to say why you did this?” Reiko studied her opponent with an air of caution. Lhadu was perhaps far younger than her by a century, but she was not without great skill and promise. She wondered who could have this level of influence over her to make her turn against her own kind in such a terrible fashion. “How did father not foresee any of this?”

“Careful, sister!” Lhadu seized the initiative while Reiko was distracted, smashing the non-lethal end of her executioner once again into her inferior defense. This time the strike struck her across the side of her face, unrelenting despite Reiko’s cry of pain. She brought the crackling blade around in an overhead sweep and thrust for her now exposed back. “Take your mind off our struggle now and you’ll join those souls below!”

Lhadu boasted in her well-earned triumph. Reiko shouted in uncontrolled agony as the blade parted her armor and slid smoothly in between her rib-cage, the electrocution by the blade’s magnetic field proving too much for her. She stumbled towards the sharp precipice she had been at the beginning and fell on her knees. Her younger sister, towering over her so proudly, brought her blade down and lashed out with her foot to kick her own sibling’s headless body off into the abyss waiting for fresh souls.

Utilizing the last of her strength, tuning out the searing pain through her enhanced psyche and war mask, Reiko parried the overhead strike with both of her weapons. Her injured form took the brunt of the kick, but she halted the momentum by clinging to Lhadu’s outstretched leg, pulling herself back from the fall and dragging Lhadu’s ill anchored body down and over the edge of the precipice in her stead. There was a shrill scream lost on the ether winds, snuffed by the moaning of souls chained to the gaping portal, soon followed by a quiet peace.
Had to cut a few corners to get this under the word limit, hopefully you won't realize it too much.

jonileth 05-10-13 05:11 PM

The Price of Freedom
1100 words without title

“My Lord, do you think it wise?” the voice of Saebek, a Cryptek that had long served the Sakir-Har Dynasty, asked of his Phaeron.

“Do I think what is wise, Saebek?” the Ancient One asked without looking at his underling.

“The Praetorians are suspicious of us as it is. Do you really think it wise to so openly ignore their directives?”

The Ancient One rose from the throne he had been perched upon and stepped down to confront his Cryptek, “I’m sure you grasp the reality of what they are asking of us.”

“Yes, my Lord… but is it not a small price to pay? We harbor enough secrets as it stands. Can we afford to put our people at risk for the sake of machines?” Saebek inquired earnestly.

“Those machines guarded our people as we slept those millions of years away. They are the only reason we now stand here with full grasp of our former selves… because they learned to adapt. How can we betray them now to appease old values that have long been overwritten by the passage of time?” the Phaeron demanded of his Cryptek.

For his part, Saebek lowered his gaze in defeat, “Your logical is sound…”

“Our people, as you so rightly pointed out, are at just as much risk even if we pandered to the Praetorians’ requests. The more we give up of ourselves in this age, the closer we come to being subjugated once more by the likes of the Silent King. We were betrayed all those ages ago by the very… things… you now advocate compliance with. Our great Dynasty was the last to succumb to the biotransference and the only one that didn’t lose our sanity afterward by some great miracle. Our subjects are not the mindless automatons that other Dynasties employ. Our people still retain the memories of being craftsmen and artisans. Should such things come to light, do you truly believe that forcing our Canoptek brethren back to the oblivion of slavery would appease the Praetorians?” the Ancient One recounted for the benefit of his Cryptek.

“Doubtful they would be appeased until all but you and I were rendered mindless slaves to the old ways…” Saebek intoned with a hallow voice.

“If you can so easily arrive at this conclusion, then it shouldn’t be a great burden on your mind to arrive at the proper remedy for our relationship with the Triarchy,” the Phaeron observed.

“Shall I awaken the Shard?” the Cryptek asked with much more energy than previous.

“I am loathe to use our former enslavers… however it would indeed be fitting in a twisted sort of way to allow it the pleasure of some small revenge for its imprisonment. Make the arrangements and I will gather our Praetorian friends…” the Ancient One remarked dismissively.

Saebek bowed slightly and departed the throne room to attend to his duties. The Phaeron, for his part, set about the task of gathering the Praetorians in one place. The bait was simple enough; a false promise of acquiescing to their demands was incentive enough to bring the small band of tyrants in one place. His choice of locations had been orchestrated to give every appearance that he was going to comply. It would be interesting to see their reaction when they discovered the truth behind his intentions.

When the ordained time arrived, the Praetorians were gathered within the chamber that the Ancient one had designated. Not too far from them stood Saebek, fully armed with all of the implements of his chosen craft. The Ancient One entered the room without entourage; the only thing he held was the staff that was both his weapon and symbol of office. Such a thing was hardly alarming or out of place even within the confines of his own Tomb World.

“We would see this task accomplished swiftly, Phaeron,” the leading Praetorian demanded briskly.

“I’m sure you would…” the Ancient One remarked casually before turning his gaze to his Cryptek, “If you wouldn’t mind.”

Saebek nodded slowly and turned away to approach one of the access spheres that lined the walls of the chamber. The Ancient One watched with interest to see just what would transpire. As predicted, the Cryptek had no intentions of bringing forth one of the C’Tan, he instead attempted to access the command protocols for the Canoptek network. Had he been capable of such a thing, he might have laughed at the effort.

As the Cryptek struggled to perform a task contrary to his Phaeron’s wishes, the Praetorians began drawing their weapons. For his part, the Ancient One merely lowered his head slightly as if in defeat.

“We heard all about your planned rebellion against the old ways, Phaeron. While we can see that you believed your logic to be sound, the Necrontyr Empire must be rebuilt in a unified manner. You cannot be autonomous nor can we allow you to contaminate the rest of the Tomb Worlds with your aberrant machines. Your compliance isn’t voluntary…” the leading Praetorian remarked.

“Perhaps…” the Ancient One remarked, “However today isn’t the day you force me to comply.”

The Phaeron raised his staff slightly and then struck the ground with it. Without so much as a word uttered, a hail of blue-white energy rained down from all directions. Each Praetorian began to crumple to the floor, and as they did so, swarms of Scarabs set about dismantling the things atom by atom. Saebek had given up his attempt at overriding the Canoptek command protocols and had made a mad dash for the entrance to the chamber. His way was blocked rather abruptly by the form of the Ancient One’s favored Wraith, the eyes of the thing glowing a bright and deadly red.

“Should we be merciful to this traitor?” the Phaeron asked his machine companion.

The hulking thing swiveled its head side to side in mimicry of a negative reply in response.

“I see…” The Phaeron intoned in a low voice.

“Please, my Lord, have merc…” was as far as the begging got before the Cryptek’s head was crushed in by the Wraith’s powerful talon.

As the Cryptek’s corpse sank to the floor, yet another swarm of Scarabs came to ensure that his body would remain inert for all time. The Ancient One surveyed the carnage with what little pride he was able to experience. While his Cryptek had failed him, his machines had more than made up for the small treachery among their ranks.

“A small price to pay, indeed, to return to the chains we have only just shed…” the Phaeron remarked.

Romero's Own 05-19-13 07:23 PM

"Golden Lies" (955 Words)

Brother-Sergeant Moras held a hand to his side, attempting to staunch the blood flowing from a wound in his side. His other hand clutched his sword hilt.

Captain Kornax Volta peeled back his lips into a foul mockery of a smile, despite the gash in his chest.

"Perhaps, but then are we not all?"

"You have dishonored all we stand for, brother"

The Sergeant spat out the last word, the hate for his once commander before him radiating from his eyes.

Lustig bared a laugh, spinning his own blade in his hand as Moras tightened his grip on his own.

"But what do we stand for? What did we ever stand for?"

"Our Father..."

"Your's perhaps Moras, but never mine"

Kornax interrupted the Space Marine, his body crouching into a fighting stance.

Brother-Sergeant Moras, member of the Golden Sentinels 2nd Company for nearly three hundred years, did not respond. Instead he stepped forward, drew his sword and struck. Once.


The Golden Sentinels journey to Orvar IV was supposed to be a victorious parade for returning warriors. And yet they had all of them been received. For it was not love and respect that awaited them upon that cursed planet. Only death.

But the betrayal came not from the inhabitants of the planet, but from within the Chapter itself. In the midst of the crusade in the Emperor's name the Chaos Gods had spoken to the Golden Sentinels and many had listened. Among them Chapter Master Lustig Wiltag.

It was upon Orvar IIV that the true extent of the Chaos Taint was revealed. More than half of the once magnificent Chapter had turned to the Chaos Gods, tempted by promises of immortality and eternal glory.

Only a handful had remained loyal, and those that had soon found themselves desperately fighting for their lives against the Brothers in streets that were already running with blood.


The roar of death filled the city as bolters barked out destruction from both sides. But the fighting was most fierce within the heart of it, the swirling dance of death that only the most skilled could survive.

There the air was thick with the scent of blood and the screams of dying men. The noise of blades crunching into armor and cutting flesh was deafening and yet those within the melee heard nothing.

There were no set sides, only a blur of golden armor. Those that fought had to rely upon instincts to know when to strike and when to hold back. The Golden Sentinels knew that they had been betrayed, but they had no way of knowing who had been touched by Chaos.

And so it was that Captain Jusion swung to the right and to the left with his sword, wasting no time to take in the faces of those he slayed. Through his eyes he had been betrayed, and it did not matter if he cut down the guilty or the innocent.

All at once Jusion burst free from the combat and, when he was on the verge of turning back, an unearthly scream filled the air. Jusion turned towards the noise and saw the distinct outline of a Greater Demon laying about with a massive sword, knocking aside Space Marines with each stroke.

The Captain knew he was needed there more than he was in a melee that would wear on till not a single man still stood, and so, with a heavy heart, he set off at a run towards the Demon.

He closed with it quickly but slowed as he approached. Moving towards a Golden Sentinel he recognized as a veteran of the chapter he dropped to a knee beside his prone form.

The veteran raised his eyes to the Captain and saluted weakly. It was only one-handed, but the Captain forgave him down to the fact he only had the one. The Captain wasted no time.

"Where is Chapter Master Lustig?"

The Space Marine only nodded his head towards the Greater Demon and the Golden Sentinels around it.

"Well then we must help him banish the Demon"

The Space Marine looked at him oddly, before opening his mouth to speak.

"You don't understand Brother-Captain. He is the Demon"


Kornax’s grin melted away to be released by a look of surprised pain.. Slowly, his vision drifted from the emotionless face of Moras and focussed upon the sword hilt lodged firmly in his chest. The tip, and almost the entirety of the sword’s length, protruded from his back; dripping dark blood upon the black marble upon which the pair stood..


Kornax breathed, his breath coming in painful gasps.

“It cannot end this way..”

“Repent, Captain and the Emperor may find it in his heart to forgive you”’

Moras commanded, staring into the face of the Captain.

“..I will not allow it!”

When Moras next spoke his voice was low and dangerous.

“It is over, brother. I am sorry.”

“Do not shed pity on me!”

Kornax hissed into the Sergeant's face, his surprise disappearing as his maddened mind took control of his actions. He threw his own sword to the floor and gripped the one protruding from his chest.casting his own weapon away with a clang, taking the pommel of Michael’s in a two-handed grip.

The Golden Sentinel growled, his hand moving to grip his knife.

“Kornax, stop.”

The Captain, blinded by anger and rage, did not comply.

Moras’ dagger slipped from it’s sheath and moved quickly through the air.

“I am truly sorry..”

Moras whispered, and plunged the dagger into Kornax’s neck.

The Space Marine’s form collapsed to the ground, and Moras sagged onto his knees, weeping even as more Golden Sentinels burst into the palace.

Liliedhe 05-20-13 02:57 PM

Out, damn spot...

I am washing my hands as my Master’s voice interrupts me. “Acolyte Abelard, report to my office at once.” I acknowledge, dry my hands and go to him.

His office is dark and squalid as always, piled with trophies, ancient books, scrolls and the rests of meals. Sometimes I don’t know if a bone I carefully dislodge from the carpet is the remains of some fowl he ate or something foul he destroyed. He knows what everything is. He doesn’t tell me. He likes me unsettled as he squats behind his desk like a vulture, black cloak with high collar almost hiding his withered, pale face.

He is toying with something as I enter, and with a sinking feeling I recognise a black feather. Almost as long as my forearm, asymmetrical, it is a flight feather of some large bird. Or not a bird.

I bow before him. “Inquisitor.” No greeting, he merely gestures for me to sit in the deep armchair standing opposite of his desk.

The upholstery is faded and stuffy, smelling of mold and rancid blood. There are rumours about this chair. All different, all insisting on something lethal hidden in it. I wouldn’t know. So far, I always rose from it again, all my appendages intact.

Behind my Master a holoscreen blinks frantically, showing nonsensical characters scrolling upside down. It paints my face and hands green. It can’t erase the black stains on my fingers.

Blue eyes bore into my own. “What is treason, Acolyte?”

“To turn against the Imperium.”

The answer comes by rote, hammered into me during my training. My fingers - proof of my guilt - tremble.

“And what is Treachery?”

This one is harder. It isn’t a crime in the catalogue I learned. It is much more personal. “To turn against someone to whom you owe loyalty”, I try.

My Master nods. He dips the black feather into a pot of ink and begins to write. My fingers start to itch.

“Do you owe me your loyalty, Acolyte?”

His tone is smooth, purring, idle. His eyes are anything but. They are searchlights, boring into my soul.

“Yes, my Lord. I do.”

He nods and continues to write. His desk is so cluttered I cannot see what he is writing. My mind sees my death certificate, written out in the inklike blood of the creature I killed. The creature at the root of my treachery. The creature whose tears still stain my hands.

“You are washing your hands a lot.” A casual observation.

“Yes, my Lord.” Another twine for the noose to string me up.

“It has been said that this is a symptom of internalised guilt. Are you feeling guilty?”

What would I give now for a poker face. For the ability to tell a blandfaced lie. To smile and answer ‘What would I have to feel guilty for?’ I can’t do that. He would see right through me. Even if he doesn’t know of my foolishness yet, he would know then.

“I am not sure, my Lord.”

Am I feeling guilty? My hands are stained since I touched the tears of that mutated beast I caught and killed on my Master’s orders. I shouldn’t have done that. I should know better than to touch something tainted. It was stupid but it was not treachery. I betrayed nothing. And yet, there is this pervasive feeling of ... something. Of having sinned.

“Explain.” He has stopped writing and turns the quill, so perfect, so dark, in his fingers.

I raise my hands. I know better than to hide them. “I am washing them because they are dirty.”

“Those look like ink smudges to me.” Why is he offering me excuses? I know better than that. I know lying, even lying by omission, will damn me in his eyes. “Ask the scribes for a better soap.”

I close my eyes. I see my life flashing before my eyes. Once again, I see the moment of my fall. Of my betrayal. I stand over the mutilated body of the chaos thing, this unholy mixture of bird and man, armoured in plates of ceramite. I trapped it and now I kill it, firing sanctified bolts into its chest, turning its innards to mulch. I feel again the compulsion to look into the dead things eyes, black-in-black eyes, so old, so empty, so sad. I see the trails its black tears have painted on its face. Tears of sorrow, shed while it was living still. And I close its eyes. Stain my fingers, stain my soul. To this day I don’t know why I did this. How I could feel pity and respect for something damned.

“It is not ink, Master.” I drop from the chair to my knees. A little furry thing disappears under my Master’s desk. I see the litter of centuries on the ground, and bury my hands in dead things.

“Get up.” The disinterest is gone from his voice. Now it is sharp like a whip. My body obeys before my mind even registers his order.

“I ask again: are you feeling guilty?”

My voice is a broken whisper as I admit my failing, finally purge it from my soul. The consequences will come later, the punishment. Now, I confess.

“Yes, Master.”

“Why?” He uses the tone he reserves for the heretics, for those who turned from the Emperor’s light. Sharp, unforgiving, cold. Although everyone who abandons the Imperium is a serious blow to him, they would never hear it in his voice. Or see it in his face. Neither do I as I cannot look at him anymore and watch my feet and the worms crawling over them.

“Because I showed pity to the enemy. Because I felt curiosity and sadness and fascination instead of hatred and revulsion.”

He is silent and in the silence I hear his soft breath. And feel my own tears, painting trails on my face.

“Ah, Abelard... So young. So romantic.” Now he sounds wistful, even sympathetic. “Of all my Acolytes I knew it would be you to betray me like this. Not with your actions but with your heart. A heart... The most dangerous liability for all of us...”

I hear the sound of a bolt pistol being cocked. I know it well; it is my own. The first shot tears through my chest. I don’t feel the second shot as I collapse among the dead. I cannot breathe. My vision, my hearing fade as do my thoughts.

A hand, spotted with age and clawed with arthritis, wipes away my tears.

Words: 1093

Ambush Beast 05-22-13 04:34 PM

Time to hunt the men!
Time to hunt the men!

I awoke in a pit full of corpses. The smell of blood with its coppery fragrance blended with the bile and shit and filth of the dead. The decomposing bodies served the worms and maggots well as a feast of garish delights and the flies, oh god, the flies filled the pit so thickly that I could barely make sun-baked sky above. I do not know how I came to be here. Somehow I was among the dead and the thought, no the reality of the situation caused me to tremble with unimagined terror. Worms wriggled through my cloths and hair. They were in my eyes and ears and in my butt crack, probably had been pushing there way into my anis as well. They were in my mouth and nose too. I turned my head and vomited atop the back of a dead woman expelling the maggots out along with several worms and other contents of my stomach. The vomit spread along her ripped spine and flesh and ran down her sides until it spilled down onto two other bodies stacked below her. Fighting hard to gain my freedom I pushed off a young boy from my chest and slid out from under a man who had been ripped apart. I struggled in the closed space to stand and put out my hand to brace myself upon the bloody walls of the pit. The top of the pit was within easy reach so I put my hands up along the ledge and fought with all the strength I had to escape.

For miles around there was nothing to see save the trees of a vast forest and the sky above. Animal tracks were all around the area, deep and large. Something had been here recently and I was sure that I did not want to be here when it came back. The smell of the pit wafted out and caused me to vomit again. I shuttered when I realized that I smelled like the pit or rather like the dead that I had been entombed with. The worms and maggots were still wriggling upon my flesh and perhaps within my flesh as well. I hated the feeling, the thought that while I was still living the tools of death were consuming my flesh so I pulled off my blood stained clothes and threw them back into the pit, better to walk through the forest naked then corrupted by death’s handmaids in decomposition.

At once I began to run from the pit and into the shadows of the forest. My military training had taught me well how to live off the land and how to fight through pain and fatigue and I depended upon that training as I ran. I knew that the first thing I had to do was find water then food. It could not be reverse. I had to get clean, get the scent of death off of me. Whatever had put me into the pit would surely return again to consume me or part of me at least. It would know within moments that I was gone and within minutes would know of which direction I had made my escape. Within minutes from its discovery it would be moving to overtake me and it would surely find me alone naked and unarmed. I would be weak and helpless in my current state, an easy mark for the taking. I dared not be caught in that state of affairs. I ran for what felt like hours before finding a brook. Fifty yards out from the stream I stopped and surveyed the area. I listened and watched closely to be sure that I was alone before going down to drink. In the reflection from the water’s surface I saw the state of my body. I was filthy, covered in blood and shit and the scraps of flesh from other people. I was awestruck and could barely breathe. I washed my hands and face and let the current pull the detritus away before putting the water to my mouth. I dipped my hands into the water and brought it to my moth and drank deeply and long. I dared not put my face into the water. I could be taken unprepared and by surprise if something came upon me.

After drinking I plunged into the water. The brook was not deep so I laid down as if I was in a bath and scrubbed the filth of the dead away with the mud from the bank. Then I rolled in the mud and covered all exposed skin. The mud would accomplish two things for me; camouflage and an extra layer against the cold. I searched for a sharp rock and after a few minutes managed to find one. It was long so I broke it upon another and then crafted it to a long thick branch with a vine I had pulled from the base of a tree. With spear in hand I pushed myself back into the mud and became part of the environment and set myself to wait.

I did not have to wait long before it came for me. Upon seeing it across from me on the opposite bank I remembered with all clarity what and why I had come to be here. I was betrayed by my pears and left for dead after the battle. Such treachery! Maybe I had not been betrayed as such with malicious intent. It could be that my brothers thought that I had been killed in the fighting. I did not care. I was bitter against them for leaving me and if I survived the next few minutes I hunt them and kill them for how they had buried me, there with my enemies in a pit full of corruption.

The beast lumbered into the water sniffing and braying. It was large and hairy. It was a bare of sorts with a large head and dull eyes. It stalked forth with cruel intent. It was hunting for me but had lost my scent. As it came close I ejaculated from the mud and plunged the spear into its throat. It struck me at the same time and I fell back and away from it but my strike had been sure and accurate. It fell there in the water and died, blood flowing in the water’s current. I had survived the beast, now it was time to hunt the men.

1,084 words

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