He was ready to die.
Standing, in front of a baying crowd of individuals, his life literally hung like a thread around his neck. The adamantium knotweed held taught as he fidgeted on the spot while his list of complicit charges was read out aloud for all in attendance to hear.
‘Sedition! Treachery! Treason!’ Each followed by a baying hiss and venomous curses reserved for the scum of this world. He was among esteemed companions then.
To his left, a spice merchant come human trafficker, guilty of transporting illegal psykers to the outskirts to avoid the tithe to the Black ships that visited every three years. To be taken was never to be seen alive again.
You should have followed my orders to the letter.
To his right, a mercenary who had assassinated a senior Administratum officer under the orders of one of the more accomplished underhive gangs. He had succeeded in his mission but failed in doing so quietly.
Idiot. How could you be so clumsy? The man in clothing, more befitting to a man of status and prestige, hung like cattle ripe for the slaughter. His charges were read out next.
‘And at last, the most heinous of the three. Sidonius Keralson. Arch traitor, Primus Hereticus. He deserves nothing but your hate, enmity and wrath.’ The hisses and calls for death grew in number.
Sidonius scoffed sourly.
‘This…creature condemned an entire hive city to the ruination of all. All for the sake of this,’ the prosecutor held up an imperial coin with the head of the Emperor emblazoned on it.
‘Three million souls burned. And for what? To save this world? From what I hear, you ask?’
‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,’ he muttered under his breath.
‘Silence, worm!’ He was hit with a shock-maul to the ribs, driving the air from his lungs, robbing him of his words. The assailant stood to his rear, his acrid stench pressed itself against his neck, as the mobster pulled away after sniffing his flesh.
Sidonius looked to the sky at the blackened haze of the clouds to the south. There, Hive Terantus still burned with a thousand fires. The spires had collapsed under their own titanic weight, courtesy of chained melta bombs along power lines and structural supports ten thousand years old.
‘He told his captors he did so for the Imperium. For the sake of Humanity. An unseen danger lurked beneath the hive. Hidden, clandestine, secret. Creatures beyond nightmare’s grasp, and who followed a secret belief’. The prosecutor paused for effect.
‘Heretic!’ All responses from individuals in the crowd.
The hooded prosecutor silenced the baying mob. Some clearly carried weapons. Likely mixes of automatic firearms and melee weaponry. One enormous brute carried an oversized club made of rockcrete with a hunched back beneath his robes.
Sidonius’ eyes began to search the rest of the crowd.
The rot was here too.
‘You must listen to me! Listen to me!’ The clamour of the crowd was all-encompassing, deafening.
‘I am an Inquisitorial representative of the God Emperor’s most revered Ordos…’ The noose pulled tight as he was raised slowly from his feet.
‘He will die, ladies and gentlemen, but not before we deliver punishment.’
The prosecutor pulled one of the levers connected to the floor to his left. Pulling back, the floor opened up to his right, causing the condemned to drop suddenly. The crack of the trafficker’s neck rung out, his body going limp.
The crowd roared out in affirmation of the punishment.
Walking across the suspended deck, the prosecutor casually strolled across to another lever to the right of the assassin.
The assassin, having had his mouth stapled shut, tongue removed, and eyes gouged out, tried to scream, but could not. He struggled in his restraints.
‘Listen, this is all wrong. You are loyal servants to the Imperium. At least, some of you are. Do not do this, it is wrong!’
The crowd seemed to quieten down as the prosecutor turned to acknowledge the words.
‘Too late for that,’ pulling the lever.
The assassin plummeted; a satisfying click and gurgle followed as the killer swung from his noose. The cable dug into the flesh, cutting through until the neck bone gave way, decapitating the man. His body hit the metal floor hard, crumpling into an unmoving corpse.
The prosecutor moved behind Sidonius now to a raised dais. A larger lever stood there, clearly for effect. The prosecutor stood next to the lever; hand clamped around the metal handle.
‘That hive was condemned. It was so riddled with xenos filth no manner of cleansing would ever excise the corruption.’
‘You hear that? We are corrupted!’ The crowd erupted in boos and baying bloodshed. Some turned on others, attacking their fellow man.
No, they weren’t. Only those different in stature.
Those that were base human stock. Not malformed or mutated by…by…
‘No, not here too.’ The inquisitorial agent went pale as those with weapons showed their crested heads under their cowls—some with elongated noses, sharp teeth, and too many arms.
‘See, that is the rot I speak of!’ Sidonius could not point but gestured with his head. The prosecutor walked in front of Sidonius.
‘You must see it! By Inquisitorial mandate, order the arbitrators. The Cult is alive still. Do something!’
The prosecutor smiled, showing fangs in place of human teeth. Slit, yellow eyes pierced through the gloom.
‘I am.’ He turned to address the crowd.
‘They will know that the Four-Armed God wills it. All will see the truth, and those that oppose His Will must be excised. All praise The Patriarch!’ The prosecutor moved to the lever and pointed to the rooftop.
Lightning shot across the sky, showing the outline of a purestrain genestealer hanging from the rooftop above, licking its teeth. Humans in the crowd tried to run but were cut down.
The agent, realising his failure, began the God Emperor’s prayer.
‘The Emperor…’ as he fell through the trap door.
About the Author
Matthew is an avid fan of all things grimdark. The setting, the spectacle, the fantastical and the macabre.
He has been in the hobby in various forms for over ten years, and intends to introduce his daughter to the setting and hobby when old enough.
He enjoys all aspects of the hobby, and continues to imagine new and wonderful stories to help build the growing narrative within the community.