‘It is the 99th day of the new Darksun, Brother-Primus.’ A watchful day, a wary day, as any Auspiciar would tell his Magi. Gimion had a half-dozen Nurglite entities chained in his data-dungeons, all screeching of the coming convergences.
There was a pallid pause where once would have been a sigh, the scraps of Magi Asyk’s meat remembering what it had once been. ‘By which metric, Gimion?’
Gimion sensed the shade of a patronising snort in the break before Asyk’s next words. ‘And what is the conversion, relative to our forgespace?’
At this, it was Gimion’s time to pause. It was no simple exchange. The calculations were innumerable, the differences of space-time between that of the Eye and the material realm, the impossibility of equating physical and immaterial bodies relative to one another even on a static model, let alone accounting for their vectors… would one measure warp space by time of traversal or approximate size? Mercurial. Impossible. Something in him frothed at the idea of the finished product, a lifetime of lifetime’s opus, but such a task was far beyond even the forge’s most powerful Anima.
And the daemons, well, they would just lie.
‘The difficulties in comparison of our position against that of Mars-that-Was-’
‘Is not my question,’ Asyk interrupted. ‘Auspiciar, you cannot see the process for the code. You are lost in the numbers and reaching blindly into numerology when the simple fact is that time has little hold in the Eye. Black Mars is beyond it.’
‘-it is the reason,’ Gimion attempted to continue, ‘for the adoption of the Redimen Interval-’
‘An arbitrary system from an arbitrary Magi, long repurposed.’
Gimion halted, drawing back below the unbecoming heat that rose within him. ‘I am not some simple numerologist, Brother-Primus. I acknowledge the influence of numerical systems upon structures of understanding and belief, the necessity of limited minds to rationally categorise such, juxtaposed with the irrationality of numbers alone – the matter distinct and indistinct from the form – imposing effect upon the Immaterium.’
He understood too that his observance itself altered, even somehow empowered, the changes, but to speak this aloud felt… somewhere between sacrilege and something best kept to himself until Gimion figured out how best to use it. Not that Asyk would pay heed anyway.
‘Day and night may no longer carry the meaning they once held,’ Gimion continued, ‘but each passing moment is imbued with a momentum we cannot dissect. Semantics will not stop the coming convergence.’
There was an awkward crack as Asyk’s head rose, and glowing ocular ports opened at last. ‘Your little daemons have told you this?’
“Little daemons” that would shred Asyk’s legacy – body, forge, and soul – without Gimion’s workings.
‘They have confirmed my suspicions, in part,’ Gimion allowed. ‘But my auguries have been extensive.’
A single silver tendril crawled out from the hood of Asyk’s robe, snaking down his arm before entering a port in the desk before him. A moment later, the sound of inhuman screaming bellowed from the embedded vox-caster. The beat of the forge-hammers. A serpentine hiss. Internal alarms flared, and Gimion’s jaw clenched tight as a wave of heat washed across his organics, eyes shuttering and sound fading to a high-pitched whine as his systems reacted and flushed out the errant scrapcode – a local variant that had somehow infected Binharic cant and led to the collapse of its use – that had been carried on the vox-signal.
Images flashed behind his eyes of bloodied slave-pits and fire-blackened manufactoria, of roiling waves of mutant humanity, of the mighty daemon engines and dark-clad skitarii of their forge engaged with the Warpish emittances of the Western Chasm. Of leering great holes in the sky that were somehow both eyes and mouths and nothing at all. Senses returned amidst the close of a robotic monotone finishing a report, and the vox-caster grew dim and silent.
‘You see, Auspiciar, nothing unusual.’
Gimion grunted begrudgingly. ‘The centennial of the previous Darksun saw unmitigated disaster. Instability, the clouding of augurs, unnatural disaster, and the collapse of local warp routes – we bear the scar of the Western Chasm as a constant reminder. Decades-worth of research was lost.’
‘Decades-Martian, -Terran, or -Redimen?’
Gimion stumbled. His mind whirred. He hadn’t-
‘Coincidence, Auspiciar. Disaster is a fact of the Eye. We treat with the Four, and they with us, and one day, we will be ready to return to the red Mars. You should, as the rest of the forge, focus your efforts on that.’
Another internal alert sounded, a reminder Gimion had quite forgotten. The Darksun Centennial, Martian Standard. And for a moment, nothing but the ghost of Asyk’s condescension between them.
Then there was a distant rumbling, something in the ground and the sky and their bones all at once. Something that shook everything below the void but Gimion’s surety. The noosphere lit up as the static charge upon their remaining skin, the light a sickly hue like pus was to white. A hole opened in the sky above, a hole that shone purple-black and every hue the eye could put a name to but not quite describe, a hole they could somehow see even through the metres of metal between them and the sky.
It swallowed the sun, and the laughter of cursed gods echoed through the void between.
Asyk bolted upright, the many mechadendrites that dressed him as a cape rising like serpents poised to strike, bruising the tormented noosphere with spoiled data transfers as they snapped free of their ports.
‘AWAKEN THE LEGIONS,’ his mighty, desperate voice screamed into the digital void. ‘DEFEND THE FORGE!’
A dozen pings assaulted Gimion’s dataspace. A hundred. More. They arrived quicker than he could categorise them, all urgent, all pleading. All doomed. The noosphere was drowning in scrapcode, the daemonworks erupting in frenzy, the data-dungeons breaching all across Black Mars.
Yet Gimion smiled. Right on time.
About the Author
UK-based writer L. James Elliott is a longtime Warhammer 40k fan and general fantasy/sci-fi nerd, who has recently become an amateur 40k author. His work blends irreverent humour into the darkness of the far-future and attempts to bring a fresh voice to the scene.