Five days of this hell. It seemed longer but Marcel’s chrono-watch still worked. A useful device when in the warp: it counted the days its wearer had lived. A gift from a very wealthy contractor for whom Marcel had delivered an especially difficult shipment over nine years ago.
‘It’s massive this ship, Mum.’ Fio said idly, breaking his mother’s memories of her Rogue Trader days.
Marcel did not respond and stayed seated. She rubbed her temple and stared at the phosphor repentia in her hands. Fio repeated his observation.
‘It’s massive this sh-’
‘Alright, let’s pack up. Come on.’ Marcel gestured toward the ragged blanket her son was sat beside as she started to repack her grimy knapsack. She quickly wiped away a tear.
‘It’s getting worse, Mum.’ Fio grimaced as he pulled away a blood-sodden cloth from his stomach revealing a gruesome horizontal wound.
‘Well, it will never get better… if you keep messing with it! Cover it up and I’ll dress it again when we are packed.’ Marcel’s unsympathetic tone shocked Fio. She was holding back tears. That wound wasn’t going to heal.
Marcel looked about the innards of the Sempiternal, a vast Imperial cargo-voyager ship. It floated adrift in silence. ‘Not a soul aboard,’ young Fio had quipped from Marcel’s archaeo-scavenger ship after the biometric scans had come back negative. A treasure trove awaited them. All that cargo and no one to defend it. It was a dream come true for any scavenger looking for the quick path to riches and retirement. Too good to be true, thought Marcel. She should have listened to herself. Then they wouldn’t be stuck in this hell.
‘Just my soul aboard, it seems…’ Marcel muttered as she picked her way across another wrecked cargo-bay. The containers were burst open and not much in the way of loot lay scattered around. Marcel wasn’t even looking for anything worthy of resale but Fio heard his mother speak while he was diligently perusing the ground for any items of high value.
‘Sorry?’ Fio hollered from a few paces back.
‘Nothing.’ Marcel replied.
‘How far till the bridge do you reckon?’ Fio was only sixteen Terran years old. His youthfulness and naivety rubbed at Marcel’s temper.
‘We get there when we get there, Fio.’ Marcel barked and the cargo-bay walls echoed her outburst back at her. She softened her tone after hearing it herself. ‘Let’s find somewhere to rest and have some food.’
‘What were those things?’ Fio questioned in the safety of the empty cargo container. He fidgeted with a violet coin he had picked up outside their shelter for the evening.
‘The crew. I don’t know… maybe hallucinations…’ Marcel’s voice trailed off, half paying attention to the ration pack she was opening.
‘They didn’t look like bulk haulers to me!’ Fio joked then sucked the air with clenched teeth as his wound throbbed.
‘Well, no! They didn’t! A void-disease? Dark-Magic? I don’t know, Fio!’ Marcel stared frustratedly into the unappetizing grey mush and dry crackers that was her dinner.
‘You always were a good cook Mum.’ Fio smiled. Marcel forced a laugh through held back tears. Fio wasn’t even eating.
Marcel upped her pace. The corridor was long but she knew that it led to the bridge. Turn the main console on, papers, coin, change, lock doors… Marcel went through her mental list in order while Fio caught up. They stood outside the bridge door.
‘No heroics now, son. If there are any of those things in there, we take them together, ey?’ Marcel primed her repentia.
‘OK.’ Fio furrowed his brow. He held up the rusted metal bar he was using as a makeshift club in his left hand. He held out the shiny purple coin in his right and gave it to Marcel. ‘For good luck.’ His face was a nervous grin. Marcel put it with the other four violet coins in her pocket.
Marcel slowly opened the bridge door and walked backwards into the circular room. She was aiming down the sight of her weapon towards the door. The one she had just entered through. The bridge wasn’t in bad condition compared to the corridor. Dust had settled on surfaces but there were no signs of damage. Marcel half turned on her heel to face the bridge’s main console but snapped back as she heard a sound. It was Fio closing the door. The draft sent a small gust of air across the room, knocking a pile of papers onto the floor at one of the navigation stations.
No pict-screens were functioning on the bridge but the main console in the center of the room had, what Marcel knew to be, stand-by lights illuminated. She holstered her gun and walked over to the console. Coin, lock doors, paper… She hesitated and looked over her shoulder to Fio scanning the shadows for signs of life. She thumbed the activation rune on the console.
‘Mother.’ Fio’s voice seemed thin. Marcel lurched away from the device, startled, and drew her weapon.
‘No! Not now!’ Marcel sobbed.
She looked into the face of her son. He had changed. His skin was taught, his smile split the edges of his cheeks and his brow was ripped in two. It showed a newly birthed eye blinking under the bare sinew of his forehead. His shoulders had grown uneven masses that tore his jacket. He tugged open the wound at his stomach and countless more eyes fell out, they dripped with bodily fluids as they looked at his mother.
‘Fio!’ Marcel couldn’t pull the trigger. It was still her son. Her cheeks lay slick with tears. Her scream was violent and wild.
Not again. Marcel felt herself fall down into the abyss. Her thoughts were all hopeless. Her hand trembled. Fio twitched his mangled head then darted forward. Marcel closed her eyes. She pulled the trigger and her world exploded.
Marcel looked down at her chrono-watch. Six days.
‘It’s massive this ship, Mum.’ Fio said.
About the Author
Sam has been in love with Warhammer and its surrounding lore since his teen years. If he’s not at work fixing elevators, he’s out rock climbing or hiking.