He stands alone, the sun at his back. Though deep underground, he still feels its warmth. Once it raged, shining its light across the galaxy. Now it wanes, guttering in its last moments.
His battered power armour is a riot of colours, taken from the fallen for the service of the living. The only sacrifice to necessity he did not make was his left pauldron. The black clenched fist on a yellow field stands defiant as it has for fifteen millennia. Until this moment.
The worshipers and companions of the sun lay dead around him. It is only providence’s trick that he alone is left to face the oncoming tide. Tan armoured soldiers pour into the Throne Room. Previously, they had broken against the defenders like waves on a cliff; now he is but a rock against the ocean. Their blue faces make it an apt metaphor; a poetry that his kind is not known for.
He stands in the open as they point their abominable guns at him. The time for hiding behind fortifications is past. There would be no use for it anyway. His holy bolter is discarded, casings of its blessed ammunition littering the ground. In his left hand he holds a golden shield from a Companion whose name took an age to say, and in his right the tall spear of the malicious warlord whose name had been passed down over the millennia.
He watches through flickering autosenses as they hold steady. Some of the treacherous kin in their midst are struck in awe at where they stand. His lip curls in disgust. If they had been in awe enough before they would not have turned. Still, they do not move. He waits for the final fusillade.
A ripple from the rear catches his attention. He curses as the autosenses haze over before focusing. Coming to the front is one not armoured in tan but in robes of white. It carries a mockery of the spear he holds in his hand. His fingers grip it tighter as the blue skinned xenos stops a few paces in front of its line. It glances over the dead – human and xenos alike – before returning its gaze to him.
‘You have done yourself honour, Gue’ron’sha,’ it says in only slightly accented Gothic. ‘We would like to know your name.’
He almost laughs. What is a name now, at the end of all things? He almost could not even remember it. The war had raged since he was born, and he had been sacrificed to it as soon as possible. Unlike his famed forebears, he did not have centuries of experience under his belt. He had come to birth and soon death in the decades of churning war on Holy Terra.
‘Will you not answer?’ asks the Xenos again. The comment stirs him from his reverie, and an implanted memory floats to the top of his mind.
‘Defiance,’ he answers.
‘Your name is Defiance?’
‘I am Defiance, whether in name or action.’
‘You have acquitted yourself as well as any could, but you can see the end. There is no point in defiance any longer,’ the xenos continues. ‘Come, join us. With your strength, we can spread the Greater Good to the furthest reaches of the Galaxy.’
‘There is no good in the Galaxy without the Emperor of Mankind.’
The xenos looks past him.
‘Your Emperor is dead; surely you can see that the body is a corpse.’ It pauses. ‘If you truly wish to serve Mankind, cast down the arms of old and let us clad you in new ones.’
His autosenses flicker again, hazing out the world. He sighs. The xenos is correct. The Imperium is dead. Shouldering the spear, he reaches up to take his helmet off. It is heavy in his grip, and as he drops it to the ground, he feels relieved of the burden for the first time in a long while.
He glances over at the finely made shield. It is burned black from its natural gold. Appropriate as all that was golden is now ash. He lets it slip from his grasp. It clangs to the ground. As it settles in the dirt, he can hear the murmurs from the crowd.
‘Your spear, Gue’ron’sha,’ It says.
He takes a deep breath. This is the moment he crosses the point of no return. He pushes the spear forward with his shoulder. It tips towards the ground. The white robed xenos raises a hand in triumph.
Too soon. He catches the spear in an overhand grip. Time slows as his perceptions heighten. Stepping forward, it pleases him to see the shocked realisation on the filths’ faces. Too late.
He discarded his helmet as it hurt his vision and he needs to see clearly. The shield – made for a giant – would have thrown off his balance and he needs to be accurate. The spear held upright would have given his plan away as he tipped it back to throw, and his target is far enough that every moment counts.
Now it flies true. Even as bright blue plasma bursts riddle his body, he sees the spear strike. The xenos leader is protected by a force field, but the ancient weapon fulfils its last duty by shattering against it. The shrapnel eviscerates the xenos, casting it backwards off its hooves.
He hits the ground. Though his enhanced body tries to go on, he knows it is no use. Rather, he turns his eyes to the Throne. The light is small now. Perhaps it is a figment of his dying mind, but he thinks he feels approval in that light. As his world narrows, a streak of blue jets across his vision, melding with the golden light.
His world goes white.
About the Author
Writing out of the US Midwest, Andrez Beltran is a long-time fanfiction writer who has been trying his hand lately at 40k Fiction.