My first foray into the realm of 40k fanfic, written in 06 and reposted for your reading enjoyment. Please feel free to critique as you see fit, but remember that I was young and impressionable then. In case you were wondeirng, I stole the name from the story for my handle, not the other way around. Here it is in its entirety.
Consciousness broke over him slowly; he rose from the depths of blackness as though a deep ocean wave were finally releasing him to the shoreline. Agony was the only sensation he felt at first. Pain was not unknown or unwelcome to those of his kind, but what he had been subjected to was an all-new breed of pain. Over and over again they had done unspeakable acts to him, only pausing to let his body recover enough to keep him alive, and then going at it again. As he finally became fully aware, he felt cool stone against his forehead. While unconscious, he had been placed on his knees with his head to the floor in a submissive position, the ultimate insult to a warrior of his standing.
He was certain that he could not stand any more from being chained on his knees for countless hours, his arms chorded with some strange metallic alloy at the wrists and elbows behind him; biting painfully into his skin. It was a grim testament to his failing strength that natural bonds could hold him like a child. A failing he had not had since he had actually been a child more than two centuries before, on Nocturne.
His mind wandered, trying to distract him from the screaming in his joints and muscles. Only half conscious of what he was doing, he recited the Litany of the Damned under his breath. Ignatius thought back to that childhood and his entrance into the life of a Space Marine. All those of his kind were genetically enhanced to provide them with an eidetic memory so that they may remember past battles or lessons as if they had happened yesterday. The first memory that came to mind was his selection day. The day he was chosen to become an apprentice smith, which had eventually led to his acceptance into the hallowed ranks of the Adeptus Astartes.
* * *
At the tender age of six, his father had brought him to the smithy for judgment. He was of average size and strength, with no distinguishing features save his eyes. Those were a bright emerald green. The intense heat as he walked through the double plasteel doors was no worse than the lava flows that frequently altered the landscape around the settlement. The air was thick with steam rising from the furnace and from the kilns of water for cooling super-heated metal.
There were several forms moving in the near darkness, mere shadowy silhouettes dancing in the tendrils of steam lit by the flames. One shadow moved forward from the back of the large smithy, growing larger as it approached. A behemoth of a man fully three meters tall stepped out of the shadows and looked down at the boy with a stern face while wiping his massive hands on his leather apron. He was undressed from the waist up and tendrils of sweat streaked down over ritual scars that laced across his massive frame. A prominent brand of a salamander, the fiery lizard that gave the chapter its name, rampant breathing fire and speared through the heart, stood out over the giant’s left pectoral.
His head was bald, and bore scars as well, giving the impression of black flames licking up his scalp from the base of his neck as he moved. In his right temple two silver studs could be seen glinting in the near darkness. The man’s skin was a deep bronze, and leathery from many years spent in the harsh conditions on the surface of Nocturne. He was a Space Marine; of that there was no doubt, even to the young lad.
The smith finished wiping his hands on his apron and reached out to take Ignatius’ father’s hand, enveloping it to well past the wrist by the sheer size of his palm. They spoke for a bit as Ignatius looked around in wonder at the rest of the room, his eyes adjusting slowly. There were several boys working at various tasks. Their ages ranged from little older than him to nearing adulthood. Sixteen was the age of the oldest boy, he would later find out.
Before he could wander off, the two men turned to the boy and his father told him to go stand in line with the other boys. It wasn’t until now that Ignatius noticed a line of nearly a dozen boys against the wall to one side of the door, just inside the smithy. He walked over and stood at one end of the line, looking straight ahead, like the other boys.
The smith walked slowly down the line, hands clasped firmly behind his back, not looking at any of them. Stopping in front of the boy next to Ignatius, he turned sharply and stared down at him sternly.
“Who can a Marine trust?” he asked the boy.
“Hi… himself, Sir. Himself above all else…” the boy paused, thinking of the answer he had been taught by his own father “except for the Emperor of Mankind.”
“Correct,” said the smith, turning and walking back down the line and stopping in front of the boy at the far end.
“What is mankind’s greatest enemy?” he asked.
“Mankind’s greatest enemy is the enemy within himself, sir.” The boy replied immediately.
“Correct.” The smith turned and walked back a pace, to the next boy. So it continued, question after question. Each boy was asked several questions. Ignatius answered each question immediately, staring straight ahead as if he were already in a formation of his brother Marines. Few questions were answered wrong, for failure meant they would be sent home in shame.
Finally it came down to Ignatius for the last question. The smith stopped in front of him and asked, “What is the true purpose of a warrior of the Emperor?”
Ignatius stood straight as a rod and spoke with a well-rehearsed tone, “The Adeptus Astartes lives for the Emperor alone. His sole purpose for being is to burn the heretic, kill the mutant, and destroy the alien so that he may protect mankind.”
The marine kneeled down and had to bend over still further to look the boy in the eye. “Do you know what those words mean, son? That beyond all else, this is to be the entirety of your life until the Emperor calls you to him?” He rumbled in a deep baritone.
“I understand, sir. I will try hard and I won’t ever give up… sir.” The boy said with a solemn look on his young face.
“You do that, and you will have taken the first step on the journey of one of the Emperor’s chosen,” said the giant.
“My name is Veteran Sergeant Nikoense” he continued, rising and turning to face all the boys, “but from this day forward you will call me Artisan. You will work long hard hours learning the craft of being a metal smith, and if you prove yourself worthy, you will one day become a Space Marine. But that day is long off.”
With that, he turned to Ignatius’ father with a nod of his head. Ignatius’ father nodded to his son with a hint of moisture in his eye, the most emotion he had shown in Ignatius’ short life, then turned away to start for home. The boys who had not made the selection were sent home to their families. Though the Marines would never look down on them for failing, their family would. The smith then placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder and turned him into the smithy, and Ignatius’ world was immersed in fire and darkness.