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The dream always begins the same.
I am falling through a haze of grey. Clouds? Mist? Smoke? Something else?
Then the Sigil appears, coldly glowing with blue. I know not its meaning nor purpose. I know not why I dream of it.
Five marks inscribed within a strange glyph. A circle of runes surrounds it. They seem to live with a life of their own.
It makes my skin crawl.
I fall towards the center of the pattern.
A sudden strange sensation, like an electric current passing through my body. Then it is gone and the pattern vanishes into grey above me.
The grey mist begins to thin. I see a dark color before me and know this is the ground.
I smell smoke. And then a different sort of stench assaults my nostrils.
Amdst the reek of burning fuel and machine oil, I sense charred flesh.
Falling further, I begin to see more details.
Fires. Patches of murky red and black.
Setting sun glints off a piece of metal.
I am close enough to see the patches for what they are. Dead bodies.
...armored dead bodies. I recognize Space Marine armor.
Some of the red armored corpses have horns.
The Marines fought the Traitors here. But who won? Where are the survivors?
I see a cloud of darkness on the horizon. And my heart shrinks, for I know the answer.
No matter how valiantly they fought, the servants of the Emperor have failed and darkness prevailed.
I recognize the Traitors; they are Word Bearers. The Space Marines are Raven Knights.
I hit the ground. My bones should be shattered by the impact, yet it is not so.
I stand up and survey landscape of destruction that surrounds me. The ground is sticky with blood.
One of the loyalist Marines has lost his helmet in battle. To my terror, I recognize his face. Mikael. I knew him even before we were chosen to become the Emperor's Finest.
I cannot believe it. I take off the helmet of another of the bodies. Larssen. He was in the recruitment party when I went through the trials that deemed me worthy to become a Marine.
I kneel down to check another. And another. I know them all. They are my chapter-brothers.
They are dead. And I know that I am somehow responsible.
Suddenly, I feel I am not alone here. There is someone... no, something... nearby.
I hear heavy footsteps of ceramite boots behind me.
I want to turn around, but find myself unable to. It is not fear. I try to move, but cannot.
I smell brimstone.
Emperor. Its nearly upon me.
It circles me. I can feel its unholy gaze upon me. Then it stops, facing me.
Nothing has prepared me for what I see. I scream. A mortal man would die from a mere glimpse at the creature standing in front of me.
It's no bigger than an ordinary Marine.
It wears a suit of powered armor, shining like a black sun. Despite the surroundings, not a single speck of dirt mars the surfaces.
Thee identical white runes glow with inner fire at the center of its chest and upon its shoulders. They look like stylised skulls.
In its right hand it holds a chain.
What makes it so terryfing is its head.
It has no head. Where one would expect to see it, there is a clean skull surrounded by a raging inferno.
The creature (Demon?) effortlessly lifts me by the neck and holds my face mere inches in front of its skull. I feel warmth from the flames. They are not as hot as one would expect.
Suddenly, I regain control over my vocal cords.
"Who are you?" I whimper.
It "looks" into my eyes. I turn my eyes from its gaze, looking towards the monstrosity's armor instead.
Emperor. I know it. I know it well.
The thing locks its gaze with mine again. It begins to speak.
It's voice is heavy as tombstone, each syllable inevitable as the grave. No living creature could produce a sound like that.
And before a single word sounds, I know the answer. Because I know the armor.
Two words. "YOUR DESTINY". It is my armor.
Antonius awoke with a cold sweat. For a moment he did not recognize his surroundings, but the memory quickly came to him. As the rest of 5th Company of the Raven Knights, he is onboard the battle barge "Ravenlord", currently en route to Chares III. An astropathic distress call has been received and the Chapter command ordered investigation.
His mind returns to his very recent nightmare. The same nightmare that returns to him for the better part of his life, ever since his induction into the ranks of the Chapter.
Every time this... this vision... came to him, it was longer. He tries to comprehend its meaning, but the answer once again eludes him.
Yet, he has an ominous feeling that whatever catastrophe the nightmare heralded, he is soon going to find out.
I hope you liked that one. Those who have read Mark of Malal will probably recognize both characters - I made up my mind and decided re-write most of it from scratch, so watch this space...
An excellent tale, deserving of praise. Mystery and suspense are brought out quite well. However, you tend to switch from present to past quite often - this should be avoided where necessary.