A Dirge of the Lost
Hello Heretics, I have returned, after a long writing rut. Firstly, I would like to apologize for those who were reading Bleak Eternity, because I said it wasn't dead and then vanished. Not sure if I'm going to return to that, don't want to do two stories at once. For some reason I am having trouble finding inspiration, which is why I have returned back to the glorious realm of 40k to seek that inspiration. So without further ado, here is a deathwatch story.
A Dirge of the Lost
Emperor shield me against the maelstrom of my beating heart. The blood of my vanquished brothers courses through my veins, the only standard left for these frail fingers to carry into the light. In my divine fury, I can see them all, Elidion the Lion, Alaric the Twin-Tailed Comet, Loki the Black, Averon the Grim, and Librarian Diratai Moonblade.
Something tells me that this could all be a deception, something to trick me down the unending path of damnation. That brothers may yet live. And then I see them, lost in my memories, smiling down on me from the golden throne. They do not crave vengeance or absolution, they carry only pride, as if I had done everything I could possibly do and that the time has come to welcome me home.
I long for that greeting once again, but in the event that I should die, then I know that the Deathwatch has truly failed.
Never shall I relent.
My foes break upon my mailed fist like the breaking of the tide.
Never shall I surrender.
I would gladly follow those who have served Him on Terra into the Gates of Oblivion, it is the reward for a task well done.
Never shall I fail.
Deathwatch. Inquisitor. Chapter. Homeworld. Terra. Emperor. By them all I solemnly swear, and they shall judge my oath when fulfilled.
This I swear as a Brother of the Deathwatch.
An angel. A messenger of the Golden Throne, carrying the word of an authority that answered to no one. Brother Elidion of the Celestial Lions emerged from the dreary abyss of another corridor into a room filled cascading light. It was uncharacteristic of a Space Hulk, usually the power generators were so worn and depleted that every portion of the ship was painted in shadows. He ignored the crumbled statues of ancient primarchs that flanked either side of the walkway.
Elidion ducked beneath the half-jammed doorway and came out onto a tattered crimson rug that lined the aisle. The visor slits in his helm traced the carpet as it ascended upon a flight two-pronged staircases, which curved around a statue of the old Thousand Son Primarch Magnus the Red.
For a moment, the illusion of something greater than a mere Astartes almost came to life. Magnus gazed down upon him with his one eye, crimson skin glinting in the limelight. A tall plume of hair waved in an non-existent wind, and his hand was planted onto the hilt of a great sword.
The Primarch smiled down on him, then shifted back into lifelessness.
Elidion hesitated, and once again his gaze found the angel who was perched atop Magnus’ monument. The angel possessed the appearance of a young, pallid-skinned woman. She could rival the height of a Space Marine and wore pristine armor befitting one of her stature. Elidion examined the segmented armor and knew that it had not originated from ceramite.
Short locks of raven hair spilled over her ears and small hazel eyes, which seemed alight with a holy radiance. In her arms was a great spear, too fine and advanced to be anything made in the forty-first millennium. She cloaked her shoulders , arms, and thighs in great black-feather wings.
Elidion blinked as if he could be imagining things and yet the angel still existed. Her gaze studied the room with a vigilant intensity as if she searched for something to kill. Yet as her gaze found Elidion, she made a gentle smile and remained on her high vantage point.
“Elidion… where in the name of the All-father’s ball sack are you?... Elidion? I know you’re over there, little man! Don’t make me come and find you, Loki out.”
Elidion sneered and shut off his communication link. He ascended the twin-pronged stairs until he stood directly beneath the statue of Magnus. The angel remained unmoving, content to look on and maintain vigil over this dilapidated hall.
When the Celestial Lion sheathed his power sword, the angel looked down upon him again… And he noticed how her eyes had changed into large glittering pits of black. She smiled again, her teeth razor-sharp fangs. And her armor yawned with the face of a writhing demon.
Elidion leaned away from the first thrust of the angel’s spear. The second strike sent a scattering of sparks off of his pauldron and cleaved through the hallowed runes and scripture of the Deathwatch insignia. He whirled around, his power sword between his fists again, and slashed through Magnus’ leg. Elidion scrambled backward and then ran back toward the doorway.
The daemonic creature took flight as Magnus toppled forward into a pile of rubble. Her eyes were fixated on the Celestial Lion as she swooped down for another attack. Elidion parried another strike over his head. He ducked beneath the flying knee approaching his face and grabbed her foot before she could ascend again.
The daemon twisted with surprising strength that belied her fragile form. Elidion cried out as his hand twisted until he was forced to let go. Elidion made an overhead cut that bit deep into the armor around the daemon’s ankle. The creature gasped, more in surprise than pain and finally landed before him.
Sparks leapt from the clash of their blades. The angelic daemon feinted and then carved a gash in his greaves from a low cut. She followed the attack with a fluid sweep of the haft of her polearm, which she used to knock back Elidion’s free arm and then to pitch his helm backwards.
Elidion smashed his elbow across the daemon’s temple and reversed his blow into another cut that sliced a gash around her neck. He brought his fist down upon the daemonic spear, reclined his blade, and made a thrust into the daemon’s torso. The crackling power field sundered her armor and destroyed half of her ribs, but still she fought on.
The daemon howled in fury, and crunched her teeth into Elidion’s helm with enough force to crack the visor. He made another cut across the torso, this time horizontal, and registered warm innards that spilled onto his boots. The daemon let go of his helm and swung haphazardly with her spear. The blow slashed a neat cut across Elidion’s chest, but the attack was robbed of much of its former strength.
Elidion looked into the creature’s furious eyes as it fell to her knees. He raised his power blade for the final blow.
The daemon’s skull exploded like over-ripened fruit, before Elidion could even register that he had swung his blade. In fact, he was certain that he did not swing it. As the corpse collapsed in a pool of its own blood, he looked up and saw Loki-the-Grim halfway beneath the jammed door.
The Space Wolf grinned at the Celestial Lion.
Loki looked down on the daemon and spat as he pushed through the door. “I told you, don’t make me have to come find you. Lucky for you, little cub, I had your back this once.”
“Had my back?” Elidion asked. “Did you not see that I was in full control? I did not need your help, little-pup.”
Loki wheezed with laughter from under his helmet. “You know, they say that only the weak fall prey to daemons… and the stupid. I wonder which one are you, Elidion, to almost fall on one of their blades?”
“Neither.” The Celestial Lion snapped. “I was deceived, but only for a moment. Rest assured, Loki, that had I been ambushed, I would never have relented against them until the very end.”
“Good to know.” Loki chuckled. “But then the Deathwatch would be absent another brother, even if he did suffer from a large shaft stuck up his arse. Perhaps a daemon shoved it up there! But in any case, you should remove it.”
Despite himself, Elidion smiled beneath his helm. Not that he would ever let Loki know that. “Who sent you? Diratai?”
“Who else.” Loki shrugged. “The Inquisitor wants a report on our explorations. We should not keep him wanting.” He clapped Elidion’s pauldron. “Let’s get back to the others. I’m sure there are some interesting tales to go around.”
A cascade of lightning flashed around Diratai Moonblade’s ceramite fingers. The Librarian of the White Scars lifted his hand and unleashed a scouring tide of warp lightning that drove a handful of the angelic demons back. In the next moment, Diratai whirled around his force staff and crumpled an angel’s wing that flickered by him.
Diratai found himself in a winding, claustrophobic corridor, cloaked in shadows and flickering lights, and beatific monuments of angelic creatures flying around one another. Beneath his feet was a metallic iron-looking grating, drenched in the blood of those innocents who had come before them. Not an ideal location for engaging an enemy, but Diratai refused to give an inch to this vile foe.
Demonic creatures circled around the elegant monuments, alluring figures that pranced fluidly around one another. Figures that possessed the forms of lavender-skinned women with long raven hair. Chitonous crab-claws grew from the stumps where their hands should be, and snapped back and forth with belying force.
Angelic demons clung to the faces of the statues and loomed over the dancing figures.
“Inquisitor.” Diratai parried another swing of a crab-claw and crunched a daemonette’s face with a furious counter-blow. “You should not risk yourself any further.”
“Hah!” Inquisitor Andreas Batsakis flicked his hammer to one side and threw aside several of the servants of Slanneesh aside. Andreas was clad in platinum and ebony armor, emblazoned with a hundred miniature bronze symbols that depicted the Ordo Xenos. Etched into his chest plate was a crimson ‘I’ that pulsed with an eerie light. “Emperor strike me down if I left you here on your own. Not a chance you could handle this yourself!”
Andreas planted one foot forward and discharged the combi-bolter in his hand. The barrel of the melta weapon flashed burning red, a pair of daemonettes half-obliterated by the backwash of atomizing heat. The lance of energy reduced a stone angel into molten slag and nearly clipped the flying daemonic creature perched on it.
A tide of daemonic flesh pressed forward through the corridor and filled between the statues. Diratai knew there were far too many. Even his scouring lightning could burn only so many. Inquisitor Andreas whirled around in a full circle and crushed aside the first gaggle of daemons to reach them. Diratai felt the crackling power field of the Inquisitor’s hammer fizzle off of his armor.
Despite their unleashed carnage, a press of daemonic flesh hammered into them. Diratai ducked beneath a haphazard swing for his grey beard and made an uppercut with his staff. A ringing noise echoed across the core of his soul as the force staff rent through several daemon-forged spears aimed for his heart. The mighty staff, the Wrath of the Eternal Sky, crashed into the metallic grating with enough force to send a gaggle of daemonettes flying backward.
Andreas shielded his helm from several clubbing blows, his bolter cutting through the horde with every dispensed shell. An angelic mockery of a daemon climbed over her own ranks with a furious beating of her wings. She caught the Inquisitor’s hammer on her great spear and with an inhuman strength, turned him aside with a flick of her wrist. Andreas crashed into a nearby statue before a tide of daemons swarmed over him.
“Inquisitor!” Diratai searched for him as he killed the servants of Slaanesh, but could not find him in the swarm. “Hrraahhh!” Wrath of the Eternal Sky bloomed with a fiery light, so radiant and pure that the daemonic tide seethed away from him.
Diratai threw himself toward the spot that Andreas had vanished, burning with holy radiance. Several of the daemonettes who had ignored the light turned from the Inquisitor and pounced upon the Librarian. Diratai struck out once, Wrath of the Eternal Sky made his foes combust into purifying flames. Flesh roasted into cinders, and Diratai relished the scent of burning corpses.
Fire and blood. Fire and blood coursed through the Librarian’s physical form.
Daemonic cackling surrounded him and again the daemonic tide charged. Wrath of the Eternal Sky pointed toward the uncountable hordes and a roiling wave of liquid flames burst from the staff. The flames gushed forward in a great torrent that rolled across the seething horde. All Diratai could hear were the screams of the dying, and primal cries of frustration and rage. But he could not think, such was the concentration demanded of his power.
And so he channeled his psychic energy, until only the mewing of the smoldering could fill his ears. He lifted Wrath of the Eternal Sky off of the ground and the spell ceased to function. The entire corridor was drenched in billows of smoke and cinders, thick enough that Diratai wheezed fitfully.
He was not alone.
“By the light of the Emperor...” Andreas’ voice echoed through the smokescreen. He coughed violently and staggered to his feet beside Diratai. “Remind to me to never cross you, Moonblade. Lest I become nothing more than a pile of ashes. A holy death… to be reduced into not but ashes by the purifying flame. You gave them a mercy they did not deserve.”
“They are the enemy without, Inquisitor.” Diratai rasped. “Even in the cleansing of flame, their souls cannot be purified or cleansed of sin, for they have no souls. I did not spare them. I merely returned them to their eternity of agony in the diabolic realms of their cruel gods.”
“Of course.” Andreas shrugged. “You must forgive me. I specialize in purging xenos, not the minions of the Dark Gods. As do you. Now that I have found you, that is.”
Diratai’s great beard quivered with laughter. “And here we are, agents of the Ordos Xenos, doing the work of the Grey Knights. In truth, I pray that the Ordo Hereticus arrives soon, so our kill team can be done with this miserable wreck. To think that there are no willing chapters in the sector who would volunteer to destroy this abomination. I would have thought it a great honor to bring such laurels of victory to our chapter.”
“Agreed.” Andreas leaned his hammer on his shoulder. “But there is nothing more we can do until they arrive, anyway. I would not suffer any brothers of my kill teams lost in a mission they have not pledged themselves to. This place grows too dangerous. I would not shirk from our duty, as you say, but we are not well equipped to deal with these daemons.”
For a moment, Diratai and Andreas stood in tranquil silence. They looked upon the thickened rug of incinerated bodies with a look of disbelief and pride.
“Still can’t believe you did that.” Andreas smiled and clapped the Librarian’s pauldron. “Is that a common trick most Librarians of the White Scars know?”
The Librarian nodded, his expression thoughtful. “Some tricks in life are gained only through self-reflection and faith of one’s inner self… Shall I take us back to the Flame of Avarice?”
“Permission granted.” Andreas came to stand under the Librarian, who placed a heavy gauntlet on his shoulder.
Once again, Wrath of the Eternal Sky blazed with a brilliant aura and slammed down onto the metal grating beneath them. Behind them, a portal of golden light from the astronomican rippled into reality. The Gate of Infinity could teleport an entire squad of Adeptus Astartes, such was the power of the Emperor’s light. But it would make do with only the two of them, as Diratair led the Inquisitor into the blinding light and vanished from the haunted halls of the Sundered Shield of Crassus.
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