Author Topic: Dead Eagle Blues  (Read 6331 times)

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Dead Eagle Blues
« on: January 24, 2010, 02:11:09 AM »
It was dark and a low breeze whispered over the parched ground. The firmament twinkled with a thousand blinking stars and thin shreds of lead grey cloud marched slowly across the night sky. The horizon was on fire and there were tears in my eyes and ash in my mouth. I kissed your hand and got to my feet and I knew you weren’t coming with me.

I still miss you but every night when I’m alone I want to throw this photograph into the fire because he says I should let you go. He doesn’t understand though, he isn’t from our world and I doubt he even knows what love is let alone ever felt it, he’s barely human. He’s carrying me. I’d be dead a thousand times over without him but his survival will kill me eventually too if I let you go. I still need your strength if I’m going to survive, survive what has happened, and survive him.

I can hear him coming now my love, my dearest, my heart, my soul. I can’t put you in the fire. I walked away from you but I can’t burn you too, if I do that then what’s the point in going on, what am I surviving for? I wish you hadn’t left me, why did you have to go? Why did you leave me with him? Did you send him to me; is he really an angel you sent to save me? Maybe he’s a devil sent to test me.

“Caught you nicely sir.” He smiles and his tone sounds light. “Give it to me.” The smile drops immediately. He’s looking at me from beneath his brows. His eyes aren’t exactly deep set but shadow seems to pool around them. The fire makes him look daemonic. “Give it to me.” His hand is stretched out across the fire. He doesn’t burn, there’s no flesh to burn, only metal.

I give you to him and he tugs you away from my hand, he knows I can’t hold you above the fire. Another way that I am weaker than him, my hands are still alive and they still burn, they still feel. He looks at you barely. “She’s not coming back you know.” I know you aren’t my love. “There’s no room for sentimentality in these times.”

“So why do you keep me then? Why do you do all the things you do if not for sentiment?” He smiles wryly and there is humour in it and that’s what worries me. “I can afford it.” He pauses for a second and tilts his head slightly to the left, a nod of sorts. “When it suits me.”

He looks at you again, from arms length, with his head tilted back, literally looking at you down his nose. I can see the sneer in his eyes. He talks of hatred and I think perhaps he does know a certain kind of love for he loves to hate. He’s giving you back, over the fire but he snatches you away, a lick of smoke rises. He sees me as if the first time this night and passes you back to me around the fire.

“Get some sleep; we’ve a long way to go before we reach the city.” We’ve heard stories about the cities, terrible stories. I don’t know why he wants to go there but he isn’t afraid, he’s never afraid. He must want something, maybe to find a way off this world and back to his home but I don’t think so. He seems like a man with a mission. He wants to go to the city because he has to. In that case what does he need me for?
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2010, 12:05:48 AM »
“Just stand there and shut up!” Something was coming and he had me out in the middle of the road. “But-“ He seemed ready to attack me but he looked towards the sound of the engines coming our way and stayed back. “Quiet!” He skidded off down the bank on his arse and vanished into the gloom of the gnarled trees. Tide marks of purple and orange spiralled up their twisted trunks in patches, they were all ill, everything was ill now. I can hear the engines so loud now they seem to be on top of me. Will I join you again soon my love?

An estate car followed by a crudely armoured van appears. They are flanked by a trio of motor-cyclists. The vehicles are a dusty, battered drab grey, almost black. The riders are sinewy and their clothes are as faded and ragged as their vehicles. A side door slides open on the van with a thruumsh and half a dozen figures get out. Four are burly men, clad in armour made from old tyres. The other two are women, slim but not underfed. All of them have greasy tanned skin, homemade tattoos and wild hair styles. They are heavily armed and one licks his lips with a hungry grunt as he eyes me up and down. I want to be with you my love but please don’t let these animals speed me to you, don’t like me go out of this world like this.

“Well, well, well. Looks like we got ourselves a traveller here. Travellers gotta pay the toll. Whaddya think Portis, he look like he can afford the toll?” The one called Portis shakes his head and wrinkles his nose. “Naw, I didn’t think so neither. Still, he’s come a long way, can’t go back. Leaves us in a quandary.” The leader stands right in front of me now, his stinking breath hot on my face but I just look strait ahead, his grimy neck blurring as he steps even closer. He whispers so that only I can hear but his cronies probably know what he’s saying, it’s as rehearsed as the rest of his speech. “Quite a quandary eh boy? But I know how you gonna pay us. Oh yes. Oh yes! We know how he gonna pay us don’t we?” The others whoop and jeer loudly, working themselves up to murder me. “Bluurgh!”

“What the-?!” One of them at the back is clutching at his neck. He pulls a knife from his throat and a long jet of dark blood sprays everywhere. “Why you stinkin’ little-“ The leader rounds on me but he doesn’t get further than that. In the few seconds the gang has spent looking at their dieing comrade, stupefied by the sight, he has come and killed the leader. The steel fingers of his bionic hand grip the leader’s throat and crush it like a wet toilet roll.

I wear five layers to keep out the damp chill of the road, he only wears a coat and I see that discarded on the bank he’d disappeared down just a few minutes ago. I don’t remember him taking it off. He has his back to me and I see his spine is augmetic too and where the skin of his shoulders came down over the scapula it is holed like an old spider’s web and the mechanisms of his bionic arms are clearly visible beneath, working as they haul the leader off the ground. The leader is a big man and he wears bulky, heavy clothing but he hurls him like a rag doll and then wades into the gang like a bear grabbing fish in a deep stream.

He is more machine than man and he fights like a machine. He doesn’t kick or punch, doesn’t bother to block or grapple. He just reaches out, grabs hold and squeezes. He keeps doing it, heaping them up on top of each other, yowling, screaming, crying. Some are instantly dead and pin the others down. Those that have a broken limb or snapped ribs clumsily, desperately, blindly try to get out of the tangled heap of bodies but they surface only to be grabbed and crushed again. The sounds of dieing get quieter until the heap of bodies lies still.

One of the riders smacks the other on the chest, running to his bike. The second, dumbly watching the slaughter, snaps awake and scrambles to his own bike. He slams his foot down on the kick pedal and the engine roars to life, the back wheel spraying dirt. The first rider is almost around the bend, not looking back, but the second rider barely turns his bike around before he reaches him. He stamps down on the front wheel and crushes it flat into the ground and smacks the rider across the cheek, sending him spilling to the floor. The rider’s jaw is hanging off and he has time enough to gurgle as he picks up the wounded bike and plants it down on the rider, crushing the machine like a concertina and skewering the rider in a splash of viscera and gore. The amount of inhuman strength on display and the killing ease which it grants sends me to my knees, vomiting.

“I save your life and that’s all you do?” He glares at me, spattered with blood, the stuff running into every crevice and device of his metal arms and dripping from his fingers like saliva. “We could have hid.” He snorts. “Not enough time.” I look up at him, cringing as he looms over me, hands on hips. “You had enough time to hide in the trees and sneak up on them. We could have hid, they would have gone right past.” He smiles grimly. “Well maybe I was just bored then. Bored of listening to you whine about walking. Now we have transport.” He doesn’t wait for a reply.

He walks to the heap of bodies and I see now the cold logic of his chosen extermination method; the clothes have not been damaged any further than they already are by his attacks. He strips the dead and picks out the best garments and covers himself with the tyre armour. “You, put some of this on as well.” He throws over some of the tyre armour, slick with the blood of its previous owner. “I’d rather not.” He looks at me with those butcher eyes. They are bionic too but so finely made that they radiate his hate and malice as well as any organic ones could. There is a faint red glow in the pupils. “Put it on.”

He discards what little meat the gang had had stored, for which I am grateful if it is what I suspect, and watches me force down some leathery Munitorum issue rations, looted from a PDF base no doubt. He doesn’t bother to eat. I strap myself into the passenger seat and he drops himself into the driver’s, rocking the whole vehicle. Menace surrounds him like a bubble and I sit almost paralysed, a mouthful of ration sitting on my tongue. I can’t swallow, I can’t even chew, I just need to be quiet. Maybe if I am quiet he won’t- “Eat.” I try to swallow and choke on the hard lump of ration; I try to chew, slowly. “Just eat the [EXCOMMUNICATE]in’ thing!” I try to chew quicker, to swallow, the rest of the ration crinkles in its wrapper in my hand. He is staring at me, face twisted into a grimace of rage, his left hand gripping the shoulder of his seat and the right on the wheel. His arms are locked, like a drop-trooper braced to throw himself from a plane. ”You’re gettin’ on my nerves now.”  I swallow and take another bite, chewing quickly. He slaps me around the back of the head, the blow stinging and I feel all the muscles in my back and neck tense solid. I don’t move, don’t dare look at him. “In future do as you’re [EXCOMMUNICATE]in told otherwise you and me are gonna fall out.” He relaxes and turns away. He has a piece of chalk from somewhere and draws a cog on the dash and tries the engine which whirrs for a moment and then thrums into life. He half pats, half strokes the steering wheel and puts the van into gear. “Don’t push me. Alright?” I nod, swallowing another mouthful of ration. He nods too and then we’re off.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 01:27:26 AM »

“Come on, get up, we need to move.” He’s already turning away when I open my eyes and my ribs ache where he toed me in the side. The tree limbs overhead are leafless, showing the featureless off-white sky and I have only enough energy to turn to my left and stare into more whiteness, this time of a thick ground fog which hides everything beyond several metres. “Can’t we rest a little longer, I’m so tired?”

“No.” We dumped the van two days ago and he’s jamming a pan into the rucksack. I guess he must have fed himself while I slept. “Anything left over for me?” He pauses and just looks at me. “I thought you were the one that always insisted I eat?” He finishes strapping up the rucksack and slings it over one shoulder. “That was before we ran into rebel militia. Now we need to keep moving. If you want to lie in and miss out then tough.”

I stagger to my feet, tired but keen to stay as close as I can to him as he quickly walks into the fog. Seeing his back almost disappearing from view sends a sudden thrill of fear through my gut and I realise just how dependant I’m getting on him. “How can you be so sure those men weren’t just scavs out on the road, we barely saw them at all?” I’d barely seen them, lights in the far distance, vague silhouettes on the horizon, framed in the blue-grey of the darkening sky. They could have been anyone. He was driving without lights at night anyway, his augmetics helping him see I assumed, and he took the van off the road as soon as he spotted them, hurtling through the trees for hours until some hidden snag ripped the front axle out.

“Listen, this world has fallen to the Arch-Enemy and the city we’re heading to was one of the major manufacturing facilities for firearms. Their forces will be scouting the surrounding area for hundreds of square miles in every direction, capturing anyone they can to throw into the weapon mills. Scavs are just chancers, scouring the roads for easy meals, they don’t have armoured half-tracks mounted with support weapons and the certainly don’t drive around at dust with search-beams giving away their exact location.”

Vague silhouettes on the horizon, how did he see a half-track at that distance? “If the city is so dangerous why are we going there?” I still hadn’t got a satisfactory answer out of him on that. “There’s something there we need. Besides staying out in the sticks is just a slow death, not survival.” Fine, if he didn’t want to tell me about that, maybe he could clear up something else. “Who exactly is the Arch-Enemy? People talk about it but they never really explain what or who it is?” He looked at me like I’d just asked what one plus one was and then his expression softened.

He got down on one knee and, despite our obvious seclusion, looked around. He waved a hand for me to join him. “All you need to know is that there are powers who oppose the God-Emperor and they rely on the wicked and the selfish to help them achieve their aims by promising them whatever they desire. What they seek is the destruction of the Imperium and the enslavement of the human race, to plunge the galaxy into anarchy and endless slaughter to sate their perverted whims, in a word, Chaos.” I could see, even in his eyes, the seriousness of his words. “I see, but can’t we reason with these people, tell them that they have been lied to?” “You really think that men and women who forsake the Emperor can be reasoned with? No. Let me tell you, the Arch-Enemy seduces people by telling them that the God-Emperor and His Imperium is a lie, that they are imprisoned and that only by embracing the path of Chaos can they be truly free. Freedom is a lie and those who turn to Chaos walk willingly into a cage that snares their souls for eternity.”

“But-” I dared not say it to this man who could tear a person in two with his bare hands, for what I wanted to say was utter blasphemy. “Go on.” I swallowed and looked him the eye. “If freedom is a lie, isn’t the Imperium a prison?” He smiled, and was like the smile a master would give to a pet that had finally learnt a trick. “People think that a prison can only ever be a place for punishing transgressors of law but that simply isn’t true. A prison is a place that gives order to a disordered life, what that gives purpose to a purposeless life. In prison there are rules to obey to ensure safety and duties to be carried out for the benefit of all.

“Through deference and obedience one can prove that they are worthy of trust and so earn rewards and autonomy but this is only possible within the prison and only then when abiding by its rules. This is what the Imperium represents; this is the essence of what the God-Emperor means to mankind, a guiding hand to provide purpose and well-being so that the righteous might attain entrance into Glory.

“The Arch-Enemy seeks to undermine the purpose of the Imperium by creating a false image that portrays it as a prison that cages mankind that holds mankind back and subjugates mankind for its own good. The Arch-Enemy appeals to our base desires and out primitive instincts, promising to deliver in this life what the Emperor gives in the next and for some this temptation is too great and they succumb and in so doing they forfeit their immortal souls and their passage into Glory. Humans may suffer for a short time in this world but they are rewarded in the next and sit by the Emperor’s side. The Path of Chaos offers ephemeral and fleeting pleasures and delivers its followers unto an eternity of pain and anguish.”

“I didn’t truly understand before, but I think I am beginning to.” He put a hand on my shoulder and the steel fingers were almost gentle. “It can be hard sometimes to see the path the Emperor has laid out for us it can be hard to endure suffering when worldly pleasure is so close at hand. Sometimes a man might step from the path to indulge himself but only the path is stable and the banks either side of it are steep and treacherous and more often than not a man who tries his luck their falls and when that happens he can never get back on the path. We need to move now, come on.”
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2010, 03:07:03 AM »
It’s nearly dark my love and I haven’t seen him all day, not since- Not, since, last night. I look at your sweet innocent face and I wonder just how could things have gone so wrong? When things got bad in the city and you had a choice, to be like the others or stay with me, you stuck by my side. We came out here where no-one would know us, far away from the madness of the city so we could live in peace, so neither of us would have to see the things I have now seen. So neither of us would be forced to do the things I have now done.

I’d like to say that he made me do it, that he wouldn’t let me not do it. I’d like to say I had no choice but that would be weak. I’ve always been weak, I think you knew that didn’t you, I needed someone strong, like you, to guide me. Emperor, how I wish he was not my guide. I know that to deny him would not have gone well for me, but I did have a choice. You would not have done as he asked; I know that my love, but I already said I was weak. That too is weak, isn’t it, to blame my own cowardice, to use it as an excuse to not make the hard choices.

Those men might have forsaken the Emperor and they might have damned their immortal souls in the process but it is one thing to cry out for retribution and another to act upon it. I know, because he told me, that they were traitors and heretics, that they no-longer deserved to live for our lives our the Emperor’s, bought with His blood and sacrifice and to deny Him, to turn away from Him is to turn away from life. So it isn’t like killing because these men, they are already dead. But that one I was given, he did not feel dead, he felt alive, but I felt him die. By all that is holy my love, you do not know what it is like to listen to a man’s heart slowly beat to a stop. You do not know what it is like to know that you made it stop.

“I’ve salvaged uniforms from the bodies. If they have small patrols like this out here in the wilderness then they might not suspect us. At the very least we’ll be able to get that much closer to the city. You can put it on later, we’ve got their weapons too and you’ll need to learn how to handle them and how to use them.”

So, he’s back. I have to put you away now, my love.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 03:01:56 AM »
You wouldn’t believe just how much everything has changed my love and I am glad in a way that you can’t. I look at him, a few strides a head of me, and I see how natural he is in this blasted environment. Who is he to walk so calmly in this stripped wasteland, to feel so confident as we crawl like ants on a glass bowl, visible to anyone who cares to look?

The city looms on the horizon, still many miles distant, but I can see it, a charcoal smudge on the horizon. We’re on another road now, endless and desolate and the farmland around is grey and dead. Yesterday we passed through Faigan. I stopped at that old diner, the one where the fat waitress made you laugh so hard you snorted your shake out your nose. There’s no-one there anymore. Everything looked as if it had stood there for a hundred years, untouched. Tyres on cars were flat and they were all rusted out hulks. Windows had all shattered, the diner was half full of twigs and leaves and a brown streak on the floor must have been blood where a body had been dragged but there was no evidence of what had happened. I did look; the least I could do is tend the dead.

The pavements were all cracked and the road had buckled as if some huge worm had moved by beneath it. Tall, spiky dried out weeds were everywhere, covered in a blue mould that puffed out spoors in the breeze. When we got to the chapel it had been burned out. Going there had been a mistake. He tells me it was a Chaos thing but it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was a sigil, several feet square and it throbbed with strange colours. It hovered at head height and came lazily glided out of the chapel like a jellyfish floating on the ocean currents.   

It hurt my eyes to look at it, like that feeling you get sometimes when your tired and the wind feels like its dragging over your eyeballs and you can barely keep them open, like a sneeze that never happens, like a headache you’ve had for hours but only just become aware of and now you feel it, it rushes in to smother you like a dark sheet. He told me not to run, which was just as well as I couldn’t have taken a step. The thing seemed to be aware of us somehow, I had no way of telling that it was looking at me but I could feel its scrutiny, like knowing there is someone on the other side of two-way mirror. It can only have lasted a moment or two but it felt like hours and after it decided we were not enemies it vanished back into the ruin of the chapel. I was winded by the experience and fell to my knees. I don’t remember what happened after that, only his voice directing me although I couldn’t tell you what he said or what we did.

“I said get down!”

The dry earth doesn’t yield to my tired knees as he drags me down into a ditch. “What-?” He points down the road, a lone figure, just a silhouette. “Shut up.” He isn’t angry with me, curious maybe. “Another patrol do you think?” He grimaces and shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so. There’s only one man.” “Perhaps the others are concealed like us?” “Trust me; I’d know if there was anyone hiding in the ditch. He’s alone.”

We stand up slowly and walk back into the centre of the road. It is a man, dragging a trolley, heading towards us, away from the city.
“Hello?” He needs to me, but the man doesn’t respond, doesn’t even look up. “Hello? It’s all right, I won’t hurt you. I just want to talk.” I have to walk backwards a little, weaving in front of him but he stops. He’s filthy, grey with dirt and his clothes look like rags tied around him. I wonder how I must look. Then I remember, I’m wearing a militia uniform.

“Why didn’t you respond when I called you?” It seems harsh to press him but maybe I can use the uniform to get him talking. “I, I didn’t understand?” “What?” “I didn’t understand sir.” “No, I meant why wouldn’t you have understood me?” His head is shaking from side to side, a nervous tic and he smiles, like a frightened dog that might bite or just run. “Your voice, speaking gothic, I just, I just didn’t understand. I’m sorry sir, I’m very sorry.”

I don’t feel comfortable telling him I’m not really militia; somehow his nervousness makes me feel paranoid, like I’m in a trap. “Ask him why he’s alone on the road.” The man stiffens at the sound of his voice and cowers before me. “Well?” “Well what sir?” “Why are you on the road alone?” He gapes and gasps like a fish, shaking his head like a mad bull. “I, no, can’t, I-“ “It’s okay, just calm down.” “NO!” He slams into me with all the force of a bag of fluff but he gets past me and runs along the road on the sides of his feet, hobbling badly.

“It’s all right!” “Get away from me!” “Please!” I yelp as a bang explodes from behind me, the man drops. I run to him, knowing already what has happened. I reach him and turn him over, blood slicks my hands. “What have you done?!” He is walking towards us, gun in hand. “He was reaching for a weapon.” I want him to be wrong, I want to scream, where, where is the weapon? But I find a weapon, a tiny, rusty old revolved with one bullet. The man goggles at me in terror still shaking his head. He dies in my arms, his gaping mouth a silent scream. I close his eyes and lay him on the road, my hands knotted in his filthy clothes.

I’ve seen a lot of people die, before all this happened, on network broadcasts, world events, accidents that happened out on the asteroid mines, even inter-system disasters when they were really bad. I’ve seen the Ministorum talk about the Emperor and about sin, I’ve seen Munitorum officials handing out parcels of aid while stony faced PDF troopers grip their lasguns and survey the world through mirrored glasses. I’ve seen a lot of people die and never been touched but this man just died in my arms and suddenly his life means more to me than anything. I want to know who he was, where he was from, did he have a family and if so where are they? Was he happy once? What was he like, was he funny, was he brave had he seen anything wonderful, where’d had he travelled in his life who had he met? So much to know, the weight of a lifetime of knowledge as burdensome as the corpse in my hands. All my life I have felt this way, consumed with a thirst for knowledge, for understanding but knowing that I will never look, never really try to learn. You knew that about me my love, you made me more than I could make of myself alone.

“Leave him, we need to keep moving.”

I let him go and the wind whips grit in my eyes and I wipe it away but the rawness remains and my throat feels hard and dry. I clench my jaw to keep it all in, try and swallow my pain. The man's rags whip around as if the breeze grieves for him, like a mourning wife beating at the body of her dead husband but there’s nothing I can do to relieve that pain, nothing I can do to make it right.

“I’m sorry.”
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2010, 03:10:40 AM »
I've been walking so long I don't even know how far we've come, how many days or weeks or months have past. I think sometimes I sleep while I'm walking but I can't be sure. He won't let me rest, his need to get to the city is beyond anything I have ever felt, I don't know how he can be so driven when everything around us is so hopeless. I don't see him eat or drink or even slow his pace, he just walks and walks and walks and walks...

I'm resting now though but I don't feel rested, so on edge, so tired, can't sleep. Met a caravan, few families, animals carrying their gear. Wary of me, probably 'cos of the uniform. So tired. They gave me food, tasted good. He didn't eat, haven't seen them speak to him but he keeps telling me they've told him this, told him that. Boy over there's sleeping, so young, how can he sleep with all the madness and death and horror? How can he sleep...?

I wake with a start and it's just before dawn. The sky is a fuzzy grey and there's a whisp of an orange tinge on the horizon. It's just me and him again and he's watching me over the smouldering ashes of the camp fire, sat on a log surrounded by dry brown grass. Everything seems brown, sweat brown, like a shirt that was white but hasn't been washed so long it's brown, everything dipped in sepia, do you remember how much I liked sepia photographs my love? Do you remember that one where we-

"Rested enough?" He'd been ambivalent watching me but he asks his question with a slight sneer of contempt. I know what I'm about to say won't improve his mood but I'm still groggy from sleep that my mouth can barely form words.

"What?" His look is pure hatred, like molten knives of black poison that just drain from his eyes and over the sandy parched ground, dragging itself towards me, hands made of shards of anger, fuzzy like a greying out vision, that feeling you get when you've sat too long and the blood pools in your legs and when you sit down it can't get to your brain fast enough so you start to black out. How can you get all that into look and unleash it upon another person, what did they do that is so terrible you could look at them like that?

"Get up, we need to move, we need to get to the city, or perhaps you've forgotten what our friends told us last night? You probably weren't even listening were you?" That look again. I feel the hands tug my trousers and I look down with a start.

He's already walking again. Step after step after step after step. Inexorable.

The travelers said they'd come up from the south, that things are much worse down there than they are up here but I can't imagine anything worse than this. They did explain about some of the things they've seen but it was too aweful to listen to.

It's got something to do with the Chaos that he told me about. The travelers didn't use the word but he caught my eye a few times and I just knew that that was what they were really talking about, that the Chaos was what had caused our world to burn, even if these travelers didn't understand that. Why would they.

It started with the government. I remember him saying that that was odd, it starting right at the top, so open. He says that the power of the Chaos is that it happens without you knowing. Anyway, it started with government and then bam, that was it, civil war, insurrection. They used the soldiers to get things moving and that's why everything just seemed to come to a halt overnight, why everywhere is so damned empty. No-one knew what was happening and those who should've been telling us were the ones making it all happen. Everyone down south just went kinda mad. Those who could got away, or tried to, by the time the Chaos began to spread out it had got some kind of order established as strange as that sounds.

The travelers said that they'd seen ships, big ships landing strait on the capital. They'd already been moving a long time by then so they'd didn't know who or what came down. At first there were lots of people heading away from the badness, that's what the travelers called it, and the travelers had a lot of people coming to them for news, to try and sway supplies. Some of the people thought the ships were the Imperium coming, some of them were thinking about turning back to go and help fight, some of them even did, they thought maybe the Arbites had got a message out, that they were making a stand and that the Imperium had come to sort everything out. Considering how long ago that was and how much worse things are now you've probably guesed already that it wasn't the Imperium.

Not many people who were left in the capital when they ships touched down got out but apparently a lot of people hadn't fled strait away or just hadn't been able to but after the ships came they found a way, a few did anyway, some of those people were those who'd gone back to see of if was the Imperium that had come. The travelers said the stories were full of wrongness, that what people had seen couldn;t have been real and if things were so bad that is had made their minds make up such terrible visions that whatever had come down in the ships must've been really bad, despite all the crazy stories. What they had all been sure of was that an army had landed and that someone or something in charge had ordered all the civilians that could be found, should be taken prisoner. It was when they got to that point that I stopped listening to what the travelers had to say.

The city is only a few days away now. Our uniforms have helped us so far and what we learnt from the travelers has helped us to avoid some other things. We know there's an army behind us and they're probably heading to the city too, it's where the weapons are and an army needs weapons. It's funny really, I know more about what this unseen army is doing than I do about what we're doing, or at least what he's doing. He still hasn't told me why he needs to get to the city. Sometimes when I get tired and just stare at my boots to make sure I keep walking he gets a long way down the road and when I finally look up he's just standing there, the city behind him and a big smile on his face. I still don't know why he needs to get to the city or why I have to get there with him.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2010, 03:17:04 AM »
We arrived at the city.

Sometimes, sometimes, when you've seen something really bad it occupies your mind so much that even when you're trying to explain it to yourself it distracts and you just see it over and over again. Time distorts, hours can pass in the blink of an eye.

The city is an industrial nightmare, a twisted mass of pipes, factorums and roads intertwined with tracks for transmotives that scream like ghosts, popping out of buildings here, vanishing back inside there, at ground level, hundreds of feet in the air, shooting around like a worm in a rotten apple, a very rotten apple. It isn't at all how I remember it my love.

For about two miles on our way in, the ground is parched so dry it has cracked, yards deep in some places. The grass, what little remains is yellow or brown, dead or dieing from toxic overspill. The main motorway has had its legs cut off to make a raised processional of twisted concrete and tarmac and the lights that line each side have been turned into gibbets and those down the central reservation have been capped with wheels, corpses and the dieing tied down for the carrion animals to feast upon.

The outer burbs have become a charnel house inhabited by evil men that labour constantly in the crumbling ruins. I saw a family gunned down in the street as we passed by, survivors finally caught. One of the women was unfortunate enough to live and she was butchered alive and the dismembered parts were still twitching as they were dumped into a cooking pit. I saw other abhorrent deeds done in the short time it took us to get to the main gateway and while I fear those images will follow me for the rest of my days, I will never speak of them.

The main gateway was colossal, the doors a hundred feet high. I know not what material they were constructed from for they were covered in a thick layer of bloody skin and heaps of corpses on spikes that bulged like tumours. The bodies were all well rotted but on some, their filmy eyes still moved and I think we were assessed but he shielded me from the doors and nothing was said to us by the grotesque, obese guards that lurked in sentry boxes, roughly built into massed heaps of garbage and the detritus of dozens of homes; chairs, couches, appliances, carts, anything and everything just heaped up for the guards to stnad high above the steady influx of grey skinned things with hollow eyes entering and leaving the city, shuffling along, waiting to die. Not all made it through, some were shot, others staked to the door, some chained and taken away and a far more unfortunate minority were dragged into the sentry boxes by the leering guards to Emperor knows what grisly fate.

He has taken us deep into the city and we fiit through the dark places and splash through the foetid water like bloodhounds with a scent. At least he has stopped berating me, he has become very quiet since we enterered this unholy place, consumed by his need to get to his destination and I think we will be there very soon.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2010, 02:10:02 AM »
Finally he's allowed a break, a little rest now that we are so deep in the city the invaders are no-where to be seen. It's dark, damp and dirty. It's derelict and rotting, but that was probably how it was before. Over-building is so dense here that no natural light gets in, just a faint hazy greyness. I'm cold and I'm hungry, he's off now looking for something to eat although what he expects to find I don't know. My feet were aching but having sat for only a few minutes my legs and back got so stiff I was barely able to hobble around to get a fire lit. It isn't warming me up much my love, but the light is enough for me to be able to look at you. After everything we've come through I'm surprised, although I shouldn't be, that you've not been more damaged; a few creases here and there, a slight scuff but nothing to worry about, nothing that could marr your beauty.

"Who's there?" Someone just kicked a can. Emperor, staring into the fire was a stupid thing to do. "Is that you?"

"Don't move!" A man, a man with a gun pointed right at me, more people behind him in the shadows. "What are you doing in my home stranger? I said don't move!"

"Please, I don't mean any harm, I didn't realise people were living in this area."

"Why shouldn't we, this is our home. Wait, that uniform, you're one of them, I'm going to kill you traitor, I'm going to kill you and leave your body to rot!"

"Please wait, I'm not from the militia, this isn't my uniform! I can explain!"

"You expect me to believe such lies, your kind would say anything!" He did it, he actually pulled the trigger. You're still in my hand though my love, you've protected me again. "Damn it Farra, do something, stop him!"

"Please listen to me," One of the others is a woman and behind her, just a child, a young girl. They're angry but they're just scared, they just don't understand yet but I can make them, I can make this all right. "I'm not one of them and I'm not a traitor. I came from the south, me and a companion, he's the one that wanted to get to the city and we got into some trouble with the milita, that's where we got these uniforms, they helped us get in. Please you have to believe me, I mean you no harm, I'm on your side." I hold up my hands to show I have no weapons. He's still struggling with the gun, but he doesn't seem as agitated. The woman, Farra puts a hand on his shoulder.

"Karnin, it's all right." She smiles at him warmly. I can see in his eyes the animal fear, the need to protect but also the need for her to be right, that this isn't a problem, that I am not a threat, that he doesn't need to kill me and that being unable to, he hasn't failed them. I see in her eyes understanding, a tired weariness and love. She looks at him the way you look at me, my dearest. He drops to the ground, perched on the edge of a section of battered ventilation pipe, he looks away, away from her not me. She pulls his head around gently with both hands and there are tears in his eyes, a desperate smile. She smiles back and gives him a nod.

Farra sits beside Karnin and she beckons to the little girl, speaking softly. No-one says a word for a few minutes, letting the adrenaline fade. Finally Karnin speaks up. "You have a companion you say?"

"Yes, he's looking for food."

"Not much food to be had, unless you like 'roaches, plenty of them but I wouldn't recommend it, some have strange diseases, even when cooked."

"I'll keep that in mind." More silence, awkward, trying to think of something to say. Trying to think of how to interact with a stranger in the uniform of the enemy.

"What's it like out there?" Both of them look at me eagerly.

"Bad. Everyone's gone save a few nomads and the enemy. There are the militia, roving gangs and other strange things which the invaders brought with them. Everywhere out there is dead or dieing, even the world is poisoned by their presence. How have you managed to survive here?"

"The enemy control the manufac districts and they stay there, working the slaves to death. We stay here, in our home." I look around and don't see anything that looks like a home, not even voids in the rubble to hide in. I think I'll keep my questions to myself. Karnin straitens with a jerk and wipes himself down. "Oh, we haven't been introduced." He huffs a little, still a bit upset from earlier but he manages to flick his eyes up to look at me. "I'm Karnin, my wife Farra and this is our daughter, Meroline. And you would be?"

"My name's-"

"Got yourself a few friends I see." He's back. God-Emperor, he's back. I look for him but he's off in the shadows.

"It's alright they're good people, please, they're just people."

Karnin sits upright, gun in hand again. "Who's that your talking to stranger?"

"It's alright, it's just my companion. Please, put the gun down, it's alright."

"You better come into the light or I'll shoot!" Karnin is on his feet staring into the darkness. I turn in my seet looking desperately but I can't see him; why didn't he just show himself instead of all this? "Please, Karnin just sit-"

"Come out!" There is a zipping sound and Karnin goes down, dropping his weapon. He's clutching his arm and blood is welling up. He shot him, why? Why would he do that. I stand up, after all this time, why shoot a desperate man like Karnin? "Why did you do that? Why did you shoot him?"

"Saz ameck!" A dozen shadows come out of the darkness. These aren't militia, these are enemy soldiers, tall, jagged. The one who spoke is holding a smoking rifle, he points at me and I raise my hands again. "Oolack no far? Oolack no far?!"

"I-I don't understand you, please!" The officer snarls. They're moving in fast with professional swiftness. The officer is right in front of me, clubbing me to the ground with his rifle butt. I saw a picture once, some news clipping. There was a phot of a mutant being burnt by people called the Redemption, I remember that they wore these snarling masks. All the enemy soldiers are wearing something similar, made from tarnished copper, dirty smudged metal with every molded crease and line filled with verdigris. The officer's mask has an open mouth with sharp teeth and stylised tusks out the side, the open mouth has bars in it, like a grille. His breath is rank.

His rifle butt smashes into my temple and he has his face in mine and he hisses out his question again through gritted teeth. "Oolack. No. Far?"

"I don't under-" another smack with the rifle.

"Zant dane, ack mickar voi nas!" Two soldiers move forward grabbing Farra and Meroline. They both protest, Farra strugling, the girl screams and gets a cuff. Karnin shouts and another bullet zips into his leg this time. I can barely see, my vision blurry and my eyes stinging from the blood trickling in. The soldier with Meroline holds her tight to him, one gauntleted hand gripping her tiny shoulder harshly. He looks at the officer.

"Za keos?" The officer makes a slight coughing sound, a derivise snort an flicks his head towards a tumbled down wall. "Ack voi keos nash sherr int." The soldier begins to head behind the wall, drawing a pistol, Farra begins to moan and almost gets free but gets a fist brought down on her head. I can't keep my head turned anymore, starting to grey out, I hear Farra make a funny sound, like a gasp. I manage to look and she is stood alone, free from her captor. She's stood with her hands spalyed and held either side of her face, as if she just got splattered by something that made her jump in suprise. In the light from my tiny fire I see her glistening, wet all over her face.

The officer is about to query what has happened and then we all see it, the soldier who had hold of her nolonger has a head. His body topples sideways like a felled tree. The next few moments is madness, shots fire, shouts, screams. I grey out for just a moment it feels but when I come to all the soldiers are dead. The family are alive and cradling each other, looking towars me with fear. "I leave you for ten minutes. Ten minutes." He's leaning over me, right next to my ear. He's very angry I can tell. "Please don't hurt them." I whisper, terrified of what he might do. The soldier's are all in pieces everywhere. If you clench your jaw real tight you get a tinnitus hiss, I hear that sound as he leans away from me, my plea enraging him. "I should kill them just to teach you a lesson. I told you to keep a look out while I went to fetch food for you to stuff your face with. You wanted a rest, you insisted on a rest, complained about being hungry, slowed me down again!" I hear the pop of his metal knuckles as he clenches his fists, the synthi-muscle cracking as it strains.

He drags me to my feet and throws me forward, almost into the fire. "Sit down and shut up." He sits next me, fiddling with something over the fire, a thin skewer with a nicely roasted creature on it, although I have no appetie now, the abject fear of the family still huddling quietly infecting me.

"Here." He thrusts the skewer at me. "I'm not, not hungry." I try to placate him, "You have it, you need to eat more than me." He tilts his head back like he does, looking at me down and across his nose, eyes narrowing. His lips part a little to reveal clenched teeth, his top lips curls a little. "Eat it." His voice is low, dangerous. "I'm not-" "Eat it!" He rams the meat into my mouth. "You eat, you wanted it, you whined and cried and bitched for it and now you've got it so eat it!" The family recoils at the outburst and he turns on them, eyes on fire. He takes in a breath, the air dragging over his teeth but he doesn't say anything. He throws a bundle over to them and glares at Farra, "Sort your fellah out. And you," He turns back to me, "Eat that up."
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2010, 02:10:30 AM »
It had been very strained after his outburst. I ate, but the meat turned cold and greasy in my mouth, my throat becoming raw due to my inability to swallow although eventually I managed to force it down, bite by agonising bite. Eventually his temper subsided into a low rumble, he complained about you again my love, your presence a distraction for me, or so he says. Fitful sleep came only after a long struggle. I am lying awake now and the smell of cooking food is too potent for me to lie here any longer. Opening my eyes I see the family, silently preparing what meage rations they have, their expressions tense and distant.

"I apologise for my companion, he has quite a temper."

They all look up with a start, Farra and Karnin both look afraid and worried, giving each other a quick sideways glance. "Your companion? Things are hard these days, we understand, there's really no need to say anything." He isn't around, off somewhere again. Maybe he's finally left me; he got me to the city and even found some Emperor-fearing citizens for me to hole up with. Karnin looks at Farra once more as if making up his mind about something. "I have a question for you."

"Please, ask me anything."

"This, companion, of yours, does he often come and go suddenly?"

"He does yes. I don't really remember just how we met. I was erm, unsettled, at the time. He said he needed to get to the city and on our journey he has explained a lot to me about the invaders, things I never even knew were real and even now I find them hard credit but the evidence is compelling to say the least. I don't know why he brought me with him. Everything about his attitude makes it clear that he is not accustomed to travelling companions and he has been more than hostile towards me on many occasions and yet he has dragged me with him every step of the way. I really don't know anything about him at all."

I'm not sure exactly what either of them expected to hear or what answer they wanted but they both seemed to get even more nervous. I could understand, he is a truly frightening man and his capacity for violence and killing is like nothing I have ever seen. Before Karnin could question me further I heard a noise behind me, like a can being kicked or some other detritus being disturbed. "That's probably him coming now." Behind me I heard Karnin call to his daughter, bringing her into the arms of her parents.

He emerged from behind a fallen girder, the thick metal curled over at one end as if it had been twisted from its mounting. Even though we were inside, the area was so massive that rolling banks of dirt and earth covered the ground like any abandoned industrial estate would be on the outside. He surveyed me from atop a small hill of dirt and rubble that looked as if a bulldozer had raised up the mound for later disposal. His expression was hard, his forehead ever-so-slightly creased into a frown and his lip and right nostril curled ever-so-slightly into a sneer, or maybe even snarl; he looked like a man annoyed by noisome youths passing by.

He came to a halt beside me and gave the family the once over with a look that suggested they were beneath his attiontion. "They'll have to stay behind." They had been doing just fine before we had turned up but it felt wrong to simply leave them here. "They must come with us, what if more patrols come?" Farra and Karnin looked nervous as I spoke and I could well imagine why, last night's bloodshed may have been extreme but it was hard not to see how easily he had dealt with the enemy soldiers and it would be much safer to stay with us.

Karnin stepped forward. Meroline was stood between him and Farra and as he stepped forward he put his right arm out, as if holding them both back or protecting them perhaps. "Really, we do not mind if you go. It might be for best, you don't a family slowing you down." Despite his words, the desperation in Karnin's voice made it clear he meant the exact opposite. Karnin was probably still afraid about the outburst after the fight and so I decided to make a stand. "Please, they should come with us." I kept my voice level and clear, I didn't want to appear to be pleading, he considered such a tone to be indicative of weakness and he hated weakness, weakness made him angry. He seemed about to deny me but relented at the last moment. "Very well, they can come." Karnin sagged, no doubt with relief, but didn't say anything. He began to march away but I hung back, waiting for the family to get to me.

"He sets a firm pace but I've learnt that it's best to keep up with him as much as possible, he doesn't like it when you lag behind." I tried to give them a reassuring smile but from their wan expressions it hadn't worked.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2010, 03:20:31 AM »
When all I had was you my love I thought perhaps that I would lose my mind but you would safeguard my spirit but since the family joined us I fear I may lose it anyway. They never look at him, none of them, not once. I can't say I really blame and as I look down at your fading image, your perfect smile seems a little less hopeful, a little less bright. Everything seems to be fading now. I feel as if my whole world is seen through sleep-filmed eyes, everything a blur that dances before me out of focus. I don't blame them. I understand their fear of him but they are not helping themselves and I feel as if their survival depends on me and it is a great burden. This weight is the weight of hopelessness and it drags me down.

"This is the place."

His voice startles me and I look around, I see the family doing the same. We are in a natural hollow it seems, like a bowl of dirt surrounded on all sides by the twisted steel skeletons of ancient industrial ruins. The great rusting hulks of machines line one edge, some blasted and I realise this hollow must be some kind of crater, judging by the time worn damage that surrounds us I would say something exploded here long ago. The machines with their perished rubberised handles and cracked gauges, like staring eyes fill me with sadness at the thought of them being abandoned here; I wonder if that was before or after the explosion? They are just a few more forsaken souls on this damned world.

"This is the place for what?" Karnin is stood before his family as usual. Why does he look at me with such fear? Why should I feel the full weight of his terror and not him, he is the one, he is the killer, not me, why should I be the surrogate for all of the feelings that he has generated?

As I turn towards Karnin to try and calm him the blood sings in my ears and I feel my heart beat like the hiss of falling sand on a drum skin. I snap back around with the most intense feeling of being watched and this sudden panic staggers me. The twisted structures encircle the depression and stretch off into the gloomy darkness high above, the path that lead us here and any others that like beyond the dead machines are hidden by stygian blackness, only the crater is dimly lit by a grey light that filters down from directly overhead. I see nothing, I hear nothing and I suddenly realise that he is not with us, vanished again and I wonder if it is his roving eye that watches us now from the darkness.

I am about to turn back to the family and go to them when a liquid ball of shadow drops silently to the ground. The unnatural thing unfurls and I realise that it is a human figure and is straitens to its full height I see that this is no human but a monster. From behind I hear Meroline’s strangled cry of horror, her parents do not make a sound, and I can only imagine that they are paralysed with fear like me.

The creature is huge, head and shoulders tall than me and nearly twice as broad. The bared muscles of its arm bulge as big as my head but for all its size and meat it has a sinewy look that completely belies its stature. It stands almost naked, a heavy loincloth hanging to its knees and a loose mesh covering its body. Its boots are calf high and the feet look almost mechanical, articulated toes reacting perfectly to the creature’s slightest movement.

Its right arm is heavily armoured like an ancient pit-fighter and on its left shoulder a strange device is mounted on a pauldron. The device tracks around and without being told I know it is a weapon. It is the head that threatens to freeze the blood in my veins, a grotesque lupine face, part mechanical part organic with pitiless black eyes like some beast from the deep ocean.

“You took far too long to get here human.” It speaks directly to me but it is Farra who recovers first.

“You,” I turn just enough to see her point a shaking finger at me, unable to tear my eyes completely away from the unnatural thing in front of me. “You are in league with this, this…” She trails away and I cannot answer her. “I, I… I know nothing of this.”

“Liar!” She hisses at me, her voice cracking with terror. “You brought us here, you!” What is this my love? My brow furrows with confusion. “No, no.” I can only shake my head, this isn’t right, this is not my doing. “I didn’t bring you here, it was him, it was all him, he brought us all here. It is my companion.” Karnin opens his mouth with a jerk and an exhalation of air as if he needed every ounce of his will power to force his jaws to open. “Who are you talking about, you brought us here, only you? Why did you bring us here? Why?” He sinks to his knees, hugging his tiny, fragile daughter to him. Farra puts a hand over her mouth. All of them are crying, fat, hot tears streaming down their faces.

“You don’t understand do you human.” It isn’t a question but a statement of fact. I sink to the ground shaking my head. “It wasn’t me.” I stare at the hellish thing that towers over me and its black orbs sparkle with cruel amusement. “But it was you, it was all you. Let me show you.” It stretched out an arm I then I am no longer in the crater.

I am back at the campsite when the enemy soldiers attacked but it is not him that slaughters them, it is me. I look down at myself and my skin is threaded with black veins that pulse with unnatural power. My hands are twisted into talons that rake the air and split armour, skin and bone. I go further back as I travel, drunk with exhaustion with you in my hand, shouting incoherently as I trudge ever onwards, utterly alone in the dead landscape. I see the old man from the road; see the pistol in my hand as I press it to his stomach, I cry for him even as I pull the trigger. I see the militia, one dead already, the other struggling in my grasp, I can feel the dirt and dead skin of his unwashed body rubbing off under my fingers, see his skin blanche as a squeeze, feel the gristle and bone grind under my grip, hear the sharp crack of his neck snapping and I watch as I strip him and put on his uniform. I see the roving gang; see them fall beneath my attacks. I see the spot where I stood and watched them die but it my vision there is no one there.

I remember nothing more about him from before that point but the vision shows more. There is a house a dark silhouette in the night. One window reflects distant fire; it was the start of the invasion. I see the grass is damp and alive, not dry and dead like it is now and my vision flows over the ground and to a set of steps, two of them that lead to a back door. I move through the door, through the kitchen, bathed in a lonely, white light and then into a living room. It is open plan, with a thick carpet and nice furniture, it smells warm and a little dusty but not unpleasant.

You are there my love, flying down the stairs with a bag half stuffed with clothes. I thunder down behind you, pleading for you to stop, to calm down and think but you won’t stop, you won’t listen, why wouldn’t you listen? I grab your shoulder and you turn and slap me hard across the face. Everything is still.

Please no my love, no, don’t let this be true.

Tinnitus in my ears, I remember that, like someone calling me. I felt so distant at that moment and you carried on as I drifted away. But I came back. I lay a hand on your shoulder again but you don't hit me this time and then you get annoyed as I turn you around, I grab your wrist, you struggle and ask me to stop but I say nothing. You don’t struggle half as much as you should be my love and not half as much as you will. I hold your throat with my other hand. You drop the bag. You start to struggle then, as I kneel down onto the sofa and bring you down with me. You struggle and I squeeze. You gasp for air, try to plead, try to ask why, but you have no voice. Your eyes roll, concentrating too hard on trying to breath, trying to get free to really see anything. You look at me then, deep and hard into my eyes and I watch the light go out of yours. Your back is on the sofa cushion, legs awkwardly over the edge, between mine where I pressed you down, head bent at ninety degrees, chin on my hand. I jerk you down once, twice but you are already gone. You are dead my love and I killed you.

I killed you.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2010, 03:22:31 AM »
White dots flash across my eyes, I cannot comprehend the full magnitude of these revelations but they make such dreadful sense. I look at the towering monstrosity trying to find some spark of sympathy but there is none in those darkly glittering eyes.

“But I still don’t understand why I am here.” The monster inclines its head like a puppy or, it strikes me, like a predator sizing up prey. It squats down on its hunches and the compacted mass has all the promise of the dark throat of a mortar ready to fire.

“You were not alone entirely on your wanderings. The companion you spoke of exists, after a fashion.” The thing stands back up and looks around, spreading its arms wide to take in the surrounding area. “This place is a nexus for warp energy. Right here in this spot there is a depression in the stuff of the Empyrean just as there is a crater here in the material plane. Warp matter pools in that depression creating an oasis of calm in the seething Sea of Souls.”

The creature returns its full attention to me, its eyes able to strip away every layer of who I am, laying bare every aspect of my self. “You are a witch.” The comment is directed at me, but in that moment I can tell the creature is glancing at the family. “That is the term you humans use is it not?” I nod. “Your female was a sacrifice. Her death allowed the nascent power you contain to unfold in the Immaterium and it was at that point your soul became truly vulnerable. For aeons have I trod the stars, witnessing bloodshed on a scale the likes of which your human empire could not imagine, I have seen the birth and death of races.” I feel that last comment is some how poignant for the beast although how I cannot guess. “The powers which now lay claim to your planet are my enemies eternal but one of them shares my enmity and as it suits me I execute its goals in this world. One of those goals is you.”

My companion told me about the true nature of the enemy, of Chaos. I do not pretend to understand exactly what this creature is telling me but the sincerity of its words are clear and I suddenly feel very small. I murdered you my love, I stumbled like a madman, slaughtering all who crossed my path and raving, Emperor knows how many times, at myself as I played the part of my companion. “What is the nature of this goal?”

“When the female died there was a moment when her escaping soul thinned the walls of reality, it freed your powers but it also allowed my patron to attach something to your soul, another that it had saved from obliteration in the warp. To what end I know not.” It shrugged, a peculiarly human gesture which showed that it didn’t much care about the why of all this. “Movement in real space corresponds to movement in the warp in a way that defies logic. There are probably hundreds, maybe even thousands of humans on this world like you but for whatever reason my patron chose you and you became a tether for this other soul, bringing it here to this chosen place. I am to sever that bond and to bring the other soul back into this world. But what was begun by a sacrifice must be concluded by a sacrifice.” The creature is looking at the family now and while they whimper at this statement it is clear from the look on Karnin and Farra’s faces that they know what it means.

“No, not the girl?” I feel responsible for all this, they are innocent, they don’t deserve to have this happen to them, not after all they have suffered through, eking out a miserable existence in this demented city.

“None of you are here by chance human and these others do not find themselves lost in this benighted place by accident. They chose to come here. For the girl.” I look at Karnin and for a moment I see the old defiance in his eyes but he slumps down as if some great burden has been suddenly released from him.

“It is true. My precious Meroline is a psyker.” His head drops and slowly he lifts his eyes to look at his child and gives her a tired smile. “Most would have killed such a child at birth or else cast them out but we couldn’t.” Tears stream down Farra’s face and she smiles, holding her husband’s hand tightly. To harbour a wit-, a psyker, is a terrible crime but what else can a parent do when their child’s life is at stake? “We knew, but we also knew that we loved her and so we came to the city, long before the invasion.” Karnin looks up then, at the creature. “I will not let you take her.”

“You have no choice, you do not have the power to stop me and you will die if you try.” The creature looks at Meroline. “You don’t want your parents to die do you child?” She shakes her head. “Then come here and they will live.” She stands, her parents restraining her but with a look she forces them back although I do not think any unnatural power came into play. They let her go as if they expected this moment would come and in many ways I imagine that they did think it would come. Probably they expected Imperial agents to eventually find them but the outcome would have been the same. They sacrificed their lives to protect their child and now unfortunately it seems that debt must be repaid.

Tiny, fragile Meroline is like a doll next to the creature. From its back it pulls a long wicked blade. For a moment I see Meroline’s head fly from her shoulders and the awful sight force me to turn away but the girl is not butchered. Taking her hand the creature slices open the palm but to her credit Meroline does not cry out.

Her blood does not drip from the wound though; it twists up into the air, dancing like a snake. The crimson ribbon is drawn from her wound and Meroline falls to her knees, blanching as the blood is tugged from her body. At last it ends and she collapses, deathly pale but not dead. The string of blood forms into a rippling sphere wreathed in corposant. The creature is stood bolt upright, blade held two handed before it and I get the sense that its eyes are closed.

The shimmering ball of blood begins to reform, stretching and elongating until the basic form of a hunched humanoid figure begins to emerge. The blood fades quickly to a dark crimson and then black, cracking like dried mud before forming into sharp ridges that distend and stretch like a ragged cloak swathed about the figure.

With an unearthly gasp the rapidly emerging form arches back, becoming more solid and real before collapsing to the ground. It flutters like the ashes of burnt paper and its form is not wholly substantial, like smoke forced into the shape of a man. Slowly as if unimaginably weary the figure raises its head but there is no face, only the suggestion of a hood. “Still a useless lump then?” The voice is barely a whisper but it is my companion.

“And now he comes.” The creature speaks and its voice resonates with power. I follow its gaze upwards and what I see seers my soul and threatens to unravel my mind.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2010, 03:08:00 AM »
Phantom winds whip about us, tugging at our clothes and chilling exposed flesh. Particles of dirt fill the air lending a grainy aspect to the vision before us. Wisps of unnatural light form into a roiling thunderhead that resolves into the image of an unholy beast.

The thing appears from the waist up only and for that I am grateful. It has the trunk of a man covered in bristles of hair. Each nipple has a ring and from that ring hangs a jewel that squirms before my eyes as if it were not meant to be seen. The head is utterly inhuman, filthy and unclean, resembling a mixture of rat and cattle. Thick cords of flesh sprout from its snout, three on each side and its slavering maw filled with long chisel-like teeth. Its ears are flared like a lizard’s and four horns top the skull like a crown. Worst of all are the eyes, two in their sockets, roving and intense and a third situated in the forehead that pierces the soul.

“Malal.” It is the creature that speaks, looking up at its master. It says the word with scorn and derision and that somehow buoys my soul.

“Nomad.” The entity acknowledges the creature and I can only assume that ‘Nomad’ is its name or at the least the sobriquet it has assumed.

“Daemon.” It is the voice of my companion that draws my attention now. It is the voice of a man weary beyond comprehension but it contains all of the vehemence and hatred he can muster.

“You should be grateful, your soul would have been obliterated on the tides of the Warp ere now if not for my intervention.”

“I will not listen to your lies daemon spawn, cast me back into the Empyrean, I will take my chances there as the Emperor wills!”

The gigantic form of Malal cackles and brays with mirth. “Funny you should say that.” Malal leans forwards, its grotesque face looming as it peers down at the twisted scrap of darkness that is my companion. “But do you not quail before me, is not the image of a god made manifest not enough to sear your soul?”

“No.” The bluntness of the reply in this insane situation makes me want to laugh out loud. Malal smiles smugly.

“I offer my patronage to only a chosen few, my Doomed Ones. It is your hatred that draws me, your desire to rebel.”

My companion laughs and the sound is distant as if coming from an underground cavern filled with a still pool, the sound echoing bizarrely. “I would rather face oblivion than join you. You may offer your patronage to a tiny few imbeciles but you would not make such an offer if you knew me.”

“Then tell me, who are you?” Malal’s eyes glitter with anticipation.

“I am…” His gruff reply fades away into uncertainty and his form, pressed down in such a way that suggests he is on his hands and knees sinks lower as if his strength is ebbing beneath a mighty weight.

“Shall I illuminate you?” Without waiting for a reply the Daemon-God continues. “You are Caralinus Siserin, a man, a warrior, an Inquisitor and a damned soul. You were a heretic in the eyes of your peers and they would have burned you alive but you denied them by dieing first although you burned before the end regardless.”

“I remember. It changes nothing; I will not join you. Nothing you offer could induce me to bind what is left of my soul to another daemon.”

“Is that so? It is I who salvaged your soul and it is I who brought together these mortal pawns, do you really think you can deny me so easily? Do you really think that you have a choice?

“All those decades ago when your hand slipped so easily around the sword grip, when you slew the traitor Norjaeger and thus bound your soul with the Daemon Prince Khorughurtsch did you never wonder why it was so easy? Did you never think to consider how it came to pass that you were the one to wield the daemon blade?”

“You?” For the first time I hear defeat in his tone. I have known this man Caralinus only a short time and even then only an echo of his true self but to hear his voice so crushed by what he is hearing staggers me in a way I had not anticipated.

“I.” Replies the Daemon-God. “There are many gods in the Empyrean, beings beyond the comprehension of men whose battles in the Realm of Chaos shatter the very fabric of reality. You fought the servants of those Gods in life but the Legions of Chaos are endless and eternal. I offer a way to strike back against those forces and my Doomed Ones are the bane of Chaos.

“For you Caralinus I do not offer so simple an allegiance. I know you would not join me but there is one who commands your loyalty; the Emperor.”

“You make no sense daemon, you mean you would invest your power in me, resurrect me to fight once more in the Emperor’s name?”
“In a manner of speaking. Tell me, what do you know of daemons, of their origin?”

“Little. Once bound to Khorughurtsch the Ordo Malleus closed ranks on me. I had only the word of a daemon to go on and that is worthless.”

“Indulge me.”

“There are daemons like Khorughurtsch, mortal followers of the Fell Powers elevated to daemonhood for their victories and there are the daemons of the Chaos Legions, spawned by the Gods. Each God represents the emotions, feelings, dreams, nightmares and thoughts of the mortal races, exaggerated beyond all recognition by the power of the Warp. Every thought a man might have lives in the Warp, if only briefly, and collectively they feed the Chaos Powers.”

“All very true. The Gods create daemons and are themselves the product of daemons, just as an ocean can beget a drop of water so can billions of drops of water beget an ocean.

“And this is where we come to the Emperor. You know nothing of what the Emperor truly is but for ten thousand years you have believed in what you thought He was.

“All of that belief, the collective devotion of countless trillions of humans, the sacrifice of so many lives empowers the Emperor not at all. That is why He sought to rid Humanity of religion, for He knew that such worship would have consequences. Such an irony.

“Just as the Eldar created a god so to is Humanity. In the warp the soul of the Emperor hides in the calm places waiting to be reborn and guiding Mankind where He can but at the same time the faith of Humanity is building a new god, one based upon a false image of the Emperor; the Carrion Lord.

“You Caralinus are a servant of the Carrion Lord of the Imperium. Your faith in Him, even before me, is absolute. You see, you are already His servant and in this I wish to facilitate you for the awakening of the Carrion Lord will be a blow to Chaos I could never achieve alone.

“You were a Doomed One in life Caralinus, you were failed by your peers and damned, you sacrificed your very soul and still they condemned you.  You see the great cosmic irony just as I do, your entire life a cruel joke. I offer you revenge, I offer you the chance to serve your true god once more. Deny me yet and your soul will wither in the Empyrean and your old foes will have won but accept your destiny and be reborn. What is your choice?”

I watch as the fragile form of the dead Inquisitor, smoky tendrils of ectoplasm falling from his shadow self gets to his knees and then onto his feet. It was not such much the appearance of Malal that so terrified me but the unnatural aura the being projected and I feel that same aura now from Caralinus; his hate, his bitterness his indignation boiling about him, prickling my skin like a desert sun.

“I accept.”
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2010, 04:15:49 AM »
The massive image of Malal smiles wickedly as Caralinus gives his assent. You were my world my love, and I know now that I destroyed that world but I still felt that you were still with me, guiding me, aiding me in spite of the terrible wrong I did to you. I have seen the real world, a whole planet murdered, I have seen the dead brought back from the beyond, and I have met strange alien beasts and even yet am in the presence of a god. I was stupid to think that my life, our lives, were anything but insignificant specks in the vastness of the universe. It is just as well that most men do not think for if they truly considered their place in the world they would go mad.

“My love…” I speak and I feel the eyes of the dead, the alien and the daemonic upon me. “You forced my hand, you made me take her. Can she not be brought back, can her soul not be retrieved?”

“A soul is not merely a single thing that can be captured or moved about at whim. There are many things that define a soul and the uses to which it can be put.

“A soul at its most basic is the warp reflection of the living being to which it is attached and the physiology of that being determines much of the nature of that soul. For instance, the physiology of a psyker produces a greatly inflated warp reflection compared to that of a non-psychic being.

“For a non psyker their interaction with the warp will be little more than dreams, nightmares when the presence of a daemonic entity draws near. Perhaps whilst waking there is a sense or intuition that can be felt, a gut instinct but little else. A psyker’s soul interacts so much more with the warp that it can draw the warp into the material universe or draw the psyker’s mind into the Empyrean.

“But a soul is not so simplistic, it also resides in the possessions and deeds of an individual, even in the souls of others. A great man of history imprints himself so deeply on the things he owns, on the people he meets that his soul essence is not limited to a single connection to his body.

“Caralinus had such a soul not just from his deeds but also from the power of his very thoughts. Daemons as I have said are emotions or thoughts or feelings given life in the warp, they are the renegade soul fragments of mortals let loose by the power of the warp escaping into the ether like smoke from a fire. A powerful mind is so imprinted on every thought that those fragments remain a part of the soul that created them.

“It is via this process that a mortal can attain daemonhood and ascend to be a creature of the warp. Such an entity will never truly be the mortal they were, all of the base biological processes, the aeons of evolution that created them, created the unique cultures which shaped and moulded them, all of that material substance is obliterated by apotheosis the daemon they become an avatar of the thoughts and deeds of that mortal, a distilled version of the essence of what and who that person was.

“Your lover had no such power, like most mortals, she belonged only to the great mass, to the herd. When you ended her life you cut her soul from her physical remains. Think of it in these terms; a soul is like a spider’s web. When a web is constructed it is built upon several sticky threads that eventually serve to anchor the entire web and to provide tension and in a similar way a soul is anchored to a body. When one of those threads is cut the whole web disintegrates perhaps it even loses all anchorage and floats away on the breeze. A similar process happened to your lover’s soul and typically to most souls, sending it adrift on the tides of the Empyrean where it lost all cohesion and dissolved back into the stuff of the warp.

“Her soul is gone save for those tiny wisps which cling to the edges of your soul and to things that were hers but eventually those strands will dissolve into the warp as well until her memory is but a faint and dim recollection.”

So many thoughts rage through my mind. To kill a person is not to simply end their life but to obliterate almost every trace of their soul… To destroy a person so thoroughly, why, it is the stuff of ancient legend reserved for those who committed only the most heinous of crimes, or to have angered the mightiest of men beyond reason. To do such a thing to someone, to your dearest love, your soul mate… If some tiny portion of you somehow clings to existence through me my love then I will not let your memory dim, I will not forget you and allow you to pass into the oblivion of time. Always my love, always you will live for me and I for you, I will never let you go.

“Tell me Malal,” My companion, Caralinus, speaks now. “What good am I to the purpose to which you have set me in this form? My shadow self barely exists in this world, what good am I other than to scare children and old women?”

“The army that marches across this planet is led by a mighty general and it is he you must destroy to restore yourself fully.”

“He is a Champion of the Chaos Powers then?”

“Not quite. Your soul was bound to that of Khorughurtsch an immortal daemon. The destruction of his physical prison, the blade you wielded, was not enough to destroy him. When the Chaos Gods imprisoned him they did not do so without closing every loophole that might have seen him freed.

“No living warrior leads that army. A dark statue of Chaos metal holds the raging spirit of Khorughurtsch and a cabal of sorcerers direct his anger in more useful ways. Destroy the statue. Khorughurtsch will remain bound to the Chaos iron of the statue but you will have your blade once more Caralinus. Khorughurtsch can never be free, his daemonic spirit is bound to that of his wielder for all time but once you have that blade Caralinus you will gain all of his powers.”
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2010, 12:52:04 AM »
We’re outside again but the stale air of the city was far more wholesome than the wretched air out here, which has a greasy film in it that clags the throat.

After the Daemon God’s image had faded it seemed as if all life and colour and been drained from the world. I cannot truly understand the nature of the thing that called itself Malal but somehow its unnatural aura kept the fatigue of months and the enormity of sins to the back of my mind but once it had gone the weight of reality was like a slab of plascrete on my chest.

All of us left the city together that night. Karnin, Farra and Meroline shambling along together in a huddle, like blind beggars. The alien lead the way moving like liquid darkness and my companion was barely visible. I just got along as best as I could. It seemed odd that the little family should come with us but it also seemed like destiny. They had hidden in the city for years and now they had come out to follow the dead soul of an Inquisitor sworn to be the herald of a terrible deity.

My companion, Caralinus, is a scrunched up paper ball of shadow and smoke that trips and crawls and drifts along like a ghost; I suppose that’s what he is. I watch him as we scrabble over dirt stained orange with patches of pollution, dead grass like straw crisping as I scuffle through. There is a mute agony to his movements but a grim determination that is all too familiar. I wonder if all Inquisitors are like that.

The alien, the Nomad, is ahead, kneeling in the filthy soil, peering down with his wolf’s head at what is left of an enemy soldier, it is not the first time I have seen it do this.

We are in the parking area of a derelict industrial unit. What had once been neatly mown squares of grass with trimmed bushes and little trees are now overgrown with weeds and bramble. Banks of soil cover the greying concrete like islands. The buildings are all faded and bleached, dark windows dusted with grime or smashed glower down at us like a dog disturbed from his rest. A leaning twisted chain-link fence blocks access to a disused plot, scraps of tatty grey plastic sheeting wafting listlessly in the feint breeze. The ground is grey, the buildings are grey, the featureless overcast sky is grey. Everything is grey.

“I have eaten this one’s thoughts. The army approaches to gather its tribute, they will be here in four days time.” The Nomad’s voice is harsh and quiet.

The family and myself might just as well be invisible, we are not included in these remarks, they are meant only for Caralinus but we are too irrelevant to hide these facts from.

“Can you get me to the statue?”

“Perhaps.”

Caralinus is a formless wraith with only the vague outline of a man, leaning forwards over the body of the enemy trooper his faceless head, like black smoke, is reflected in the lifeless black eyes of the Nomad’s lupine helmet. Their colourless aspects match their detached conversation, like two passing strangers forced to talk to each other and choosing only the dullest topic to discuss out of spite. It is a silly thing to say my love I know but they just seem so inhuman.

“More importantly,” I cannot help but speak. “How will you destroy the statue, a bodiless spectre cannot do much can it?” It was as if their gazes were unfocussed, staring into the middle distance, here but not here until I spoke. As they looked towards me their combined glare seemed to charge and it withered me to my core.

“A not entirely moronic question.” Caralinus’ head moves back toward the Nomad and the alien turns away and I let out a breath I didn’t realise I was holding.

“You are a thing of the warp now, you require souls.” The very idea is abhorrent to me, knowing what I now know but for men whose souls are bound for the Dark Gods, perhaps obliteration is a kind of mercy. “You will have to learn how to feed on souls. I will bring you humans to feast upon and you will have to gorge yourself to be ready. By the time the army arrives you will be strong enough to kill on your own and when you reach the statue you will know what to do.”

The Nomad does not sound entirely convinced but the dark promise of his words makes me shiver.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: Dead Eagle Blues
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2010, 03:55:01 AM »
"You will be the bait little man. When the enemy arrive, try not to die, we will need you again."

"Why can't you just capture them like the others?" I had had little choice in being part of this so called plan but now that I was actually here, moments from being surrounded and almost certainly butchered I felt the urge to extricate myself from my position overriding my fear of the Nomad and the dead Inquisitor.

"Because your presence will inflame their emotions and strengthen their soul essence, it will make them more of a meal for Caralinus and the quicker he can be engorged the sooner we can get on with the true task."

The Noman spoke with an unhurried, resonant hush. The wolf head helmet turned to one side, regarding me just as a dog would with some curiosity before the massive alien headed away into the dark interior of a nearby derelict industrial unit.

I did not know where my companion was, he had taken to blending with shadows, stretching his form out across the ground or up walls to hide in plain sight. I did not have time to try and find him before the unit of enemy soldiers appeared, their heavy boots crunching across the degenerating concrete until they saw me and began to shout. They rushed forward, barking out to each other and me presumably in their guttaral language we sounded like the terrible cough of a consumptive.

I needn't have worried about them killing me as soon as they got to me, bolts of black light spat from the Nomad as he emerged from cover, gaping holes punched through armour, flesh and bone. They were all mortal wounds but not instantly fatal. From the right Caralinus emerged, a dark silhoutte that drifted over to the dieing men. I had not understood the Nomad's directions when he had discussed the process by which Caralinus was to consume a soul but I could see the effects.

As each man died the flickering black insubstantial form of the dead Inquisitor seemed to become more real, colours swam and swirled through the ethereal mass of his being, like ink in a vortex of clear water. As the life forces of the dead man wee trapped and consumed by the waiting Inquisitor, it was as if they allowed him to be alive again, if only for a brief moments. I saw his hand flex before fading back into darkness, then an armoured leg, stepping forward to loom over a corpse before being blown back into obsidian mist, the faint trace of a smile on his face.

As the last man died my companion's form finally settled, it was like seeing him through tinted glass, all the colours dark and his form still hazy but it was the unmistakable form of a man that stood amidst the cooling corpses.

He stretched with a crack of sinews and raised his head, looking at us from beneath hooded brows, a malevolent smile on his lips. "Give me more."
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!