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By Adam Johnson-Eder
My name is Euphratus Anistazio Collendus, and I am dying. Like the galaxy that I belong to, I am rotting away under bondage, awaiting execution. Dank air, stale with the smell of piss and death and a moldy, stained mattress are my companions. Well, to leave it at that is a flat lie, as they did let me keep the small booklet of notes I kept, more to keep me quiet and subdued. Mother and father would be so proud.
I was raised on Sargentum IV, in segmentum pacificus, near to the beloved Sabbat worlds of much renown now, but in the years of my youth, they were mainly ignored and feared in equal measure, held by enemies of our beloved imperium of man. Sargentum IV is the fourth world in a six world system. My family ran a transport business, with several of my older siblings serving with distinction in the imperial navy and guard. My father, Benedict, was, at the time of my youth, slowly changing from the muscled young man he once was into a paunchy middle aged man. With my uncles he had built Collendus shipping corporation, starting with a small in system transport to a fleet of in system and warp capable haulers, and even a few armed picket ships, ran by retired naval officers looking for a little excitement. Sargentum IV was still green and fertile at the time, a small trading colony on the edge of becoming a hive world. The three hives, Sargentum prime, secundus and tertian, held most of the planets population. We lived 60 kilometers outside of prime, where my families’ business was based, running food stuffs and light machinery to imperial cruisers in orbit and to imperial bases in the outlying system.
“I think the navy really means business with the Sabbat worlds Carlyn.” Gargled my father around the second glass of Cimmerian wine of the meal. My father was quite a sight back then, dressed in the finest linen money could buy, with his short mustache just brushing across the top of the crystal glass.
My mother, 43, was the same, looking more like a statue of the beati than a middle aged woman, bedecked in golden robes and jewelry, worth as much as the pension my father got from his years long ago in the navy, seen now more as a novelty payment as anything else.
“Well darling, I am sure you will find a way to expand your little venture even further, bringing even more wealth to our fine name.” said my mother, gesturing to a servant to bring more wine.
I was nineteen at the time, not particularly interested in the Scholam, or anything else for that matter, besides girls and drinks. I had worked for a while in the loading system ships for a while, meeting like-minded young men, and finding a pension for being good in a brawl and good at talking my way out of situations that would have lead to a knife in my chest. I enjoyed a good drink or girl as much as a fight, and with the money my family had little was asked and little more noticed when I asked to work with the naval craft, exchanging expensive liquors and lho sticks for weaponry. My brothers soran and soontir encouraged me to join the navy, to serve in the ancient cathedral like battle cruisers, frigates, and destroyers. “join us in the navy, you’ll find you like the control and power! The weapons systems are amazing, and what women could turn you down in uniform!” My brothers knew me well, as all those things were what I craved at that age. Was I what the navy wanted in uniform? It seemed too strict for me, and I felt there was a greater calling in my life. That is when I met him.
It was the seventh day of Sammeter, and as with the last day of every week, I was in the temple of the emperor ascendant. I have always found an interest in the workings of the temple and the kind of ecclesiarch it attracted. Ancient men and woman, hunched over from age, tall adepts of the ministorum and the adeptus terra, emotional in their outcries to the lord of man, in this case a large Aquila, thirty feet in span, mounted above and behind an ancient stone altar. And the dark men, the men that held my attention. Yes, before you jump at my lack of piety, I too went there for spiritual guidance and to quell the visions in my head. Visions of the emperor, crucified on a mountain, surrounded by the saints, bedecked in white robes, as the tortured sky rained blood over the screaming god that filled my dreams and nightmares. More than anything, on this day of the week, our own pontiff ran the ceremony of the ascension of the emperor. The temple was packed, reeking of the sweat and ache of the working and middle class, looking to the cardinal for a way out of their grueling lives. I guess I was there for the same reason. It was on this day that saw one of these dark men, these, adepts shall we say, that stood out.
He must have been in his mid forties, black hair turning grey cropped close to his skull, but his piercing blue eyes spoke of an age beyond age. When he came in, the cardinal acknowledged him with a stare of fear that was as plain to me as night and day. I was on the edge of a pew, kneeling, praying, as this man walked by. I shuddered as he walked by, and the wash of his silk robes stroked my pale arm on the edge of the pew in front of me. He stopped his rhythmic walk, and I could feel his eyes pierce my skull. That was when I tasted the blood on my lip, running from my nose, and I collapsed upon the ground in a heap, tasting the dust of incense on the floor mixed with my own blood before passing out.
* * *
When I awoke, I was greeted with a different view than when I had woken. I Lay unceremoniously upon a black marble floor, and the air smelled of incense and divine power. There was an altar in front of me. Dried blood was still on my lip, I brushed my hand over my face, up to my head. There was no hair on my head! Shaved clean, I sat up, looking further at my surroundings.
The room was maybe ten meters wide by thirty long, and the walls arched up, relief’s carved into the walls with images of the saints in battle with unholy creatures that I knew nothing of. There was an entrance behind me, guarded by two of the most powerfully built men I had ever seen. At least two and a half meters tall each, they were encased in heavy adamantine armor, a shiny black, with scarlet robes hanging out from under the breastplate down to their knees. They wore faceless black, iridescent masks, making them indiscernible from one another. Across their chest they held heavy military grade hell guns. Basically a more powerful version of the las pistols and slug throwers I had been able to acquire during my stint as a smuggler of sorts working the inner system transports my father owned. These guns, however, could punch through armor and cauterize a fist-sized hole where your heart would be. I looked up at them, and they didn’t move. As I approached closer, one touched the helm encasing his head, and nodded.
He pointed at the altar below the statue of a saint I did not recognize at the far end of the hall. I shrugged what else could I do, and turned to walk to where the guardian had pointed. As I traveled to the altar, I stared at the walls surrounding me. The ceiling was at least forty meters up, curved inward to a dome, covered in more carvings and bass relief’s, all the way to stained glass windows upon the top, depicting the sons of the emperor and him ascending a throne, with grievous wounds suffered at the hands of a man of equal stature, in grotesque black armor, with a talon fist. The altar rose several meters out of the floor, gilded with golden skulls and in the center there were two golden hands holding open a book of psalms.
Censers burning incense hung from the hands of the saints along the walls, covered in precious gems, filling the room with silver smoke. I sat down on the stairs before the altar, and a door opened in the wall between the guards. The man from temple walked towards me, bedecked in divinity. The radiance around his head and body blinded my eyes and tears ran down my face. I felt a holy prescience fill my soul, and my greed and selfishness were torn away. I saw my nightmares before my eyes.
* * *
Great giants in armor slew each other brutally; screaming and dieing amidst thousands of dead civilians and mutants. Tears ran down their faces as they slew each other, and I felt the all-father within my chest. I heard his thoughts, his fears, his fears! I saw the death of his sons on each other’s blades. Names I could never have know filled my head. Names and things I had never seen clouded my vision as I was take far back, to ten thousand years before.
Sanguinius! Oh blessed Sanguinius! My most beautiful and innocent sons! Slain by the brother he loved with all his heart! His golden hair no ragged, hanging over his torn white feathered wings! My beloved son, slain at the feet of his older brother!
“HORUS! WHAT BEFELL MY FAVOURED SON? HOW COULD YOU SLAY ANGELIC SANGUINIUS! HOW COULD YOU BRING OUR FAMILY TO RUIN! YOU HAVE DOOMED US ALL! MY SONS FIGHT ONE ANOTHER AND THEIRS FIGHT ONE ANOTHER! HOW COULD YOU AND MY OTHER SONS HAVE TURNED AGAINST ME! HOW COULD YOU TURN FROM THE LIGHT! YOU WERE THE CHOSEN SON! THE ONE TO LEAD AFTER MY DEATH! BY THE DIVINITY OF MAN, HOW COULD YOU!” I yelled.
“I HAVE FOUND MORE, FATHER! YOU LIED TO ME! YOU LIED ABOUT THE OTHERS! YOU LIED ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF THE DAEMONS AND THEIR GODS! FATHER! THEY ARE STRONGER THAN YOU! THEY ARE STRONGER THAN ALL OF US! HOW COULD I NOT HAVE FOLLOWED! EVEN WE LIVING GODS ARE BUT DUST IN THE WIND OF THE THINGS TO COME!” Screamed Horus wreathed in dark fury.
“HORUS! I TRIED TO PROTECT YOU! I TRIED TO PROTECT ALL OF YOU! YOU ARE MY SONS, AND THERE ARE THINGS IN THIS UNIVERSE BETTER LEFT UNKNOWN! YOU TOOK YOUR BLESSED BROTHERS FROM ME! MY SONS! AND YOU HAVE TURNED AGAINST ALL THAT YOU WERE MEANT TO BE AND TURNED TO DAMNATION AND DAEMONHOOD, ON THE BLOOD OF MY SONS, AND COUNTLESS MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN!
LOOK OUT THAT FOUL PORTAL BEHIND YOU! DO YOU SEE FULGRIM AND HIS NOW PERVERTED SONS RAPING AND SLAUGHTERING UPON YOUR HOME, CAN YOU SEE THE WOMAN SCREAMING, CAN YOU HEAR THE BABIES CRYING? CAN YOU SEE YOUR OWN SONS TURNING ON DORN’S AND KHAN’S AND SANGUINIUS’? THE SONS YOURS FOUGHT TO THE DEATH WITH FOR 200 YEARS? DO YOU SEE THE FALL OF MAN? MY ENCASEMENT IN THE GOLDEN THRONE? TO LAMENT FOR ETERNITY, THE ONLY SCION LEFT TO HOLD THIS BATTERED REALM TOGETHER FOR AS LONG AS I CAN HOLD OUT? AHIRMAN WAS TO DO THIS! AHRIMAN’S MASTERY OF THE ARCANE ALMOST EXCEEDES MINE! BUT YOU CORRUPTED HIM! HE SAW WHAT YOU WOULD DO! HE WARNED ME, BUT I DID NOT BELIEVE MY GREATEST SON COULD FALL! I WAS A FOOL! A FOOL TO BELIEVE MY SONS WOULD NOT UNLEASH THE UNTHINKABLE! I HAVE HAD MY FAULTS, I COULD HAVE TAUGHT THE OTHERS BETTER! BUT YOU? HOW COULD YOU FAIL LIKE THIS? YOU TURN ALL THE LOVE IN MY HEART FOR YOU TO ASH!”
The words screamed out of my mind to Horus, calling for his humanity to rip free.
“IT IS TOO LATE FATHER! I HAVE FALLEN TOO FAR! THE SON YOU KNEW IS DEAD NOW! AND I AM THE SUCESSOR TO THE THRONE! I WILL BRING THE GLORY OF CHAOS TO THIS EMPIRE, THIS, IMPERIUM, AND YOUR DEATH WILL FUFILL MY PACT!”
He yelled back, flexing his clawed hand, and pulling free his great mace.
“SO BE IT, MY SON! IF IT IS WHAT I MUST DO I WILL SLAY YOU WITH A BROKEN HEART!”
My blade swung towards him, gouging his chest plate, my golden armored form stepped over the body of my blood angel son, and I did battle with my firstborn. The ship, his ship, which we now fought in, was covered in a living, pulsating, pustulating skin, faces screamed from the walls, the trapped souls of the crew he and his perverse followers had slaughtered, my loyal sons disemboweled and fed to chained daemons. Blade and power fist against claw and mace, holy versus unholy, we raged in screams of torment and damnation, fighting on the physical plane as well as the mental. Psychic hellfire tore the ship apart, already wracked by death and explosions from my loyal sons boarding to slaughter the traitor crew, and come to my aid. Rogal is close, my most stalwart defender, slaying his way to the bridge to have his own reckoning with his brother. Walls melted, steal wept down the walls from the heat of our psychic exchange, as both our armors crumpled and shattered under the blows we unleashed upon one another.
Horus tore his claws through my golden armor and into my very guts. I screamed and staggered, leaning against a molten wall for support, singeing the glyphs and sigils on my armor and filling me with agony.
“It is done father! You have failed! And I claim my right to the throne, the throne that truly belongs with me, the real defender of humanity!” called Horus.
“It is not over…my son” I wheezed.
With the last vestiges of my strength I hurled my sword, surrounded by divine power, into his heart. In a giant explosion of unholy power, his armor fell apart, his features changing from the bestial grey face, to the face of the son I once loved.
“I’m sorry…father,” he gasped, my sword imbedded in his chest, “I killed him! My brother! And all those I was sworn to protect…I have failed you…and I am sorry…I killed my brother…blessed, sweet Sanguinius, the one who always supported…and played…and played upon the vices of my brothers…destroying what my sons died for…forgive me…father…for I have sinned and brought down everything you have built. I brought…down the temple you built...around us.”
I stumbled to the body of my repentant son, and pulled him close to my own tortured form.
“How can I not, my son. How could I turn you away now. Now you know why I did what I did, why I hid the darkness from you and your brothers…I love you…my son.” And I kissed my sons head, the son that crippled me, as he drifted into oblivion, and tears ran down both of our faces, and onto Sanguinius’ broken form.
* * *
“Now you know sadness and fear, do you still seek the light?” I heard the voice as if from a long distance away. My head ached and my eyes blurred with tears, and I tasted the iron tang of blood in my mouth as it dribbled over my prostrate form, running down my chin and staining my shirt.
“Yes, who are you? And why am I here?” I gurgled over the blood in my mouth.
I felt myself being lifted up into a sitting position, against what I presumed, was the altar. A warm hand touched my forehead, and I looked up to see the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Brown, curled locks of hair hung down from her oval face, caressing her shoulders and chest, with bright amber eyes staring deep into mine, with a concern I had never seen on anyone’s face. Her tender touch bled away the pain, and the ache. She stood up and beckoned me to do the same. I tentatively stood using her arm and the arm of the man from the temple’s arm as support.
“I am Orchan Vast, imperial inquisitor, and this woman is Adelphi, and she is a psyker.” Spoke the man.
I stumbled against the altar and knocked the psalm book off as I recoiled from their touch. Two of the most terrifying types on individual stood before me. They looked at me amusingly. One of the two guards burst into laughter by the door, slapping the other one on the shoulder. The inquisitor looked back sharply, and the guard quickly stood at attention.
“Sorry sir, the look on their faces is just too priceless sometimes.”
Even the inquisitor grinned at this, “this is true enough.” Spoke vast.
“So what say you, Euphratus Anistazio Collendus, will you void yourself in your pants again, or will you take your place amongst those of us who hunt daemons, heretics, aliens and rogue psykers?”
pretty damn good bro...i like!
This is beautifully written.. I think it might be better suited to the fiction forum, myself, unless you're introducing a character for your army fluff. But it's great stuff.
The vision is a little too angsty at times for me. I know it's just a vision he has, and not neccesarily an accurate look at the battle between Horus and the Emperor, but the emotion just seems a little overladen at times.I think Horus comes across as really hormonal there, which I'm not sure is appropriate. Remember that by the end he was possessed by each of the chaos gods.. Chaos gods don't really do emotional weakness. At that stage, he was one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy, I just can't see him being allowed to lapse into fatalistic despair.“I HAVE FOUND MORE, FATHER! YOU LIED TO ME! YOU LIED ABOUT THE OTHERS! YOU LIED ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF THE DAEMONS AND THEIR GODS! FATHER! THEY ARE STRONGER THAN YOU! THEY ARE STRONGER THAN ALL OF US! HOW COULD I NOT HAVE FOLLOWED! EVEN WE LIVING GODS ARE BUT DUST IN THE WIND OF THE THINGS TO COME!”
And I don't think the Emperor ever lied about the existence of daemons. I can imagine Imperial forces probably fought against chaos cults and chaos worshipping societies during the great crusade.
Finally, the Emperor himself.. Remember, you're putting words into the mouth of a being who was far and away above humanity. He was pretty brutal too.. He ordered the extermination of entire alien races, and sent armies of soldiers out to die on the frontier while he worked on his secret plans back on Terra. Here I feel he sounds too emotional, and too compassionate.. At heart, everyone in the 40k universe is generally pretty cold and macho.Remember that the Emperor did not just kill Horus, he psychically annihilated his presence in the warp (just as Horus previously did to Sanguinius) so the physical death and tearful reunion is a little out..With the last vestiges of my strength I hurled my sword, surrounded by divine power, into his heart. In a giant explosion of unholy power, his armor fell apart, his features changing from the bestial grey face, to the face of the son I once loved.
In the one account I've read, there is a moment when the Emperor is psychically burning Horus from the inside out when the Chaos Gods retreat from Horus' body and he finally becomes aware of everything he has done, but it's presented as more of a silent, horrible moment than anything else. Both of them know at that stage that Horus must be utterly destroyed, otherwise the Gods will merely reassert their control, and everything will continue.I did feel that was a little too coloquial.. Of course, we don't know who the guards are, but given their high status positions I'd guess they'd be Inquisitorial stormtroopers or troops serving on the blackships. Anyway, the informality deescalates the tension in the narrative, I think, at a time when you want to keep the suspense up. Plus, it humanizes the Inquisitor, who doesn't need humanizing. He's the dude who condemns millions of innocent people to death on a regular basis.“Sorry sir, the look on their faces is just too priceless sometimes.”
Please don't take any of this too personaly though.. I love the story, I just think it could do with some thematic tweaking, and maybe some toning down of the melodrama in the vision sequence. That's really just how my vision of the 40k atmosphere works though, so of course you're free to ignore it..
Note: Thinking about it, I've never been sure of the status of the account of the Emperor/Horus battle I've read (the one where horus melts the terminator and so forth.) I think it's a slightly old GW piece, but it could simply be a piece of fanfluff which has passed into semi-officiality. Maybe one of the actual fluffmasters remembers it?
Actually? I think being possessed by Chaos would be a massive emotional catalyst. Think about it. They feed off emotion, they're born from emotion, they're basically emotion, so having a nervous breakdown while being possessed by all of them at once makes sense.Originally Posted by The_Giant_Mantis
Let's look at it further. You've got these four titanic entities shoved into your consciousness, which is cramped enough already, all arguing with each other about what to do, all fuelled by what is pretty much the epitome of whatever emotional flaw they represent...you won't be anywhere near sane. Much less rational.
On the subject of the actual story:
1. Spelling. "Dieing" in particular.
2. The sequence that's all in capital letters? Bad idea. Capitals give the impression of shouting, and are best used for emphasis. When you emphasise everything in a paragraph, it just becomes annoying. Imagine someone shouting for five minutes straight with stop. See?
3. The theme of eventual forgiveness? A little odd for an Inquisitor-induced hallucination. Most Inquisitors want their servants to believe that Chaos is irredeemable - that way you don't feel bad about destroying a planet when you may have been able to save it.
4. I don't like the style. That's it plainly; I'm fairly certain other people will like it, but I frankly find it off-putting and overly...human. The Emperor sounds like a distraught housewife.
The above poster = Totally a member of the Fluff Masters Clan. Click here for fluff pwnage.
Come, sons of LO! Kneel before Poodle!
Mr_Wayne: "Some people believe that the World Eaters do not field any ranged weaponry. Those people often die at a distance."
Surpriseingly I find myself agreeing with mantis and ze_poodle. There is to much talking and it gets way to 'days of our lives' with all the "Oh god what have you done!". It is a good piece but you need to tone int down a bit.
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