Kanis raised his hand to temple, massaging his head to try and alleviate the pain. But it was no good, the voices had wrestled control. It had been almost a decade since they had been able to induce this much agony. It felt as if a mental dam had burst, releasing the voices into his mind in a swirling torrent. Every step he made sent shivers of pain through his body, but not with the intensity within his head.
He knew this was his fault, he had gone too long with proper subsistence and sleep. It had drained him of his energy to keep them locked up. A lapse in control, even for a second, can spell major consequences. He decided that he needed time to recharge, enough to at least stave off the worst of the migraine.
Staying close to the ground and moving with as much speed as he dared, Kanis returned to the chapel, the place he had called home for so many years. However, the bustling masses on their way to praise the Emperor had been replaced with decomposing bodies, some contorted into horrible positions. Kanis shuddered as he walked past them and through the open archway.
‘Poor souls, may the Emperor’s light guide and protect them in the gloom of the afterlife’ he thought
The passage of time was very difficult to measure in the twilight which now engulfed the lower hive, but it was clear that there had been activity here since Kanis last visited. The pews had been overturned, smashed into pieces.
‘Probably scavengers, getting something to burn for a fire’
He glanced around the great hall to see that nothing had been left undisturbed. All the murals and artefacts of the chapel had gone, leaving nothing but a fine layer of dust and bodies. The number of bodies had increased since last he was here, suggesting that the looters must have fought over the remains of this once glorious beacon of faith. Kanis felt only sadness, for he knew that this was done out of desperation, not malice.
‘Hard times such as these are the true test of a man’s faith, and many fail’
As he approached the statue of the Emperor, the focus point of the whole place, he was relieved to see that it had been left fairly unscathed. The voices in his head already began to retreat back into the depths of his mind as he glazed upon its majesty. But they were not going quietly. He could swear they were hissing curses at the glorious figure before him, as if being this close to the statue hurt them. As he kneeled to pray, the last vestals of resistance from the voices vanished. He felt the pain recede, and a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He prayed for the souls that still remained, and asked the Emperor to look down upon them with mercy, and to guide them to his light. As ever, all that he received in return was the statues stony silence. When he was younger, he had asked how the priest knew if the Emperor could hear their prayers. He was told that the greatest gifts the Emperor could bestow on his followers was hope and faith, and that if he believed strongly enough, he would know the Emperor was listening to him.
Kanis opened his eyes and immediately launched himself backwards. His servo skull had hovered in front of his face while he prayed, meaning that when he opened his eyes it floated only a few inches from his nose. Swearing silently as only a mute could, he got back to his feet. He watched his silent companion for a few seconds while he caught his breath. Kanis had always admired the servo skull. It was a relic of the chapel, being in service for countless years. Overtime, its machine spirit had gained a curious nature, as if it had a child’s curiosity.
It was then he felt his stomach churn, with his attention on his pounding headache, Kanis had neglected the emptiness of his stomach. A quick scout of the area showed that everything had now been taken, so he would have to search further afield.
‘The Emperor likes to test to flock, doesn’t he’
Checking his pack and making sure all his belongings were in place, Kanis left the chapel through the rear entrance, in case he had been followed. He began heading south, towards a habitation block, but then froze. Something was wrong. Another side effect of his prolonged battle with the voices were that occasionally, they granted him a heighted sense. He couldn’t explain this even if he could speak, but it felt like he was able to get a glimpse of the surrounding world through disembodied eyes. He was being watched.
Hitting the ground as quickly as he could, Kanis looked around, incase someone had taken arms against him and were hoping for a distance shot with a rifle. His first day out of the chapel had seen him run into a gang armed to the teeth. He had escaped by the skin of his teeth, and had made him more wary of being out in the open for too long. After a few moments, he decided that it must just be a side effect of the earlier battle with the voices and returned to his feet.
Kanis considered his next move. With a feeling of unexplained dread of the habituation block in front of him, he decided to go East instead. He vaguely remembered there had been a manufactorum that produced vast quantities of food, and thought that perhaps there could be some scraps left over. He moved quickly, trying to dispel the feeling of being watched. He was sure he could hear something a voice perhaps, but decided it must be his nerves playing tricks on him. The further east he travelled, the more Kanis felt happy about his decision, he couldn’t explain why but he felt that every step he made was right, as if he was treading a path which had been laid out in front of him.
‘Perhaps my prayers have been answer’
He headed down a narrow street, turning right down an even narrower corridor. Bodies still littered the streets, some looking fresher than others. He then found himself turning left onto a main street until he could see the manufactorium in front of him. But something was wrong. He could see in the distance the doors were wide open, and what appeared to be a glint of metal.
Kanis dived behind a wall, waiting for the sound of incoming fire. After a few minutes of silence, he decided that either he had not been spotted or the glint was just a metallic piece of rubble. Not wanting to risk an ambush in unknown territory, Kanis decided that he would have to find another potential source of food. He looked up at another habituation block just a few yards from his hiding place. He could see the doors were still closed, and there appeared to be no tracks leading to or from the building. It seemed odd that this building had been left untouched, but perhaps the raiders didn’t want to leave the manufactorium in case a rival gang swooped in and took it from them. Knowing there would be less food to find, Kanis slowly crept up to the doors, deciding that at least this should lead him away from a firefight. He still could not shake the feeling something was watching him, waiting for him to lower his guard just for a second. He pulled out his knife from its sheath around his belt, its weight comforting in his hands.
‘May the Emperor guide my blade to victory, so that I may serve him and bring justice in his name’ he silently chanted as he pushed open the door.
On the cusp of hearing, Kanis heard a familiar voice, the first voice he had heard as a child when the curse began. It only surfaced when the others disappeared, as if waiting for him to fall into a false sense of security before striking. It was the only voice that he truly feared, for it took the guise of his former self, the child who had his tongue ripped out, the child who had been left to die, the child who sought the darkness and who the darkness still seeks to claim.
Last edited by Shadow's Fury; 02-25-15 at 09:14 AM.