There is a thudding from the basement again. Obed sighs and leans back in his chair with a rusty squeak. He knows the noise well, but he tries not to let it bother him. The dawn light is casting a warm glow across the kitchen, filtering from the window above the sink. His wife is busy washing up after breakfast and hears the sigh. ‘Something wrong, dear?’ she inquires sweetly, looking back at him over her shoulder. He smiles at her. She looks so beautiful in the soft sunlight, as lovely as the day he first met her at the harvest fair. An angel of comfort, a bringer of joy. Thank the Emperor for her, he thinks to himself as he gets up from his seat.
‘The generator’s thumpin’ again; reckon I ought to fix it,’ he says, and he wants to say more, but for some reason, he cannot remember her name. There’s a little stab of pain in his forehead, a needle prick, and he forgets what he was even worried about. His wife rolls her eyes and chuckles.
‘Nothing for you to fuss over, Obed; you can take a look later. The boys’ll be needing your help out in the barn.’ Obed shrugs and looks out the kitchen into the hallway towards the basement door. It’s made from a heavy, dark wood and sits grimly amidst the cream walls of their little farm hab. The handle and lock are dingy, verdigris on old brass. He can’t for the life of him remember why they chose such an ugly door, but he realises he’s never paid all that much attention to it. Or at least he thinks he hasn’t. Obed shakes his head.
‘Well, do you at least know where the basement key is?’
‘ACCESS DENIED.’ The voice that replies is cold and mechanical. Startled, Obed spins round, but his wife is still standing there in her halo, now with distinct concern in her eyes.
‘Are you sure there’s nothing wrong, Obed? You look white as a sheet.’
‘Headache,’ he says, not wanting to alarm her, ‘just a headache.’
‘Well, you go and see the boys. I’ll make you a nice cold glass of ploin juice for when you come in. That’ll fix you right up.’
‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ he says as he heads into the hallway. Behind him, the door thuds and rattles on its hinges. He ignores it and steps out onto the porch.
It’s a beautiful day. The morning sun makes the surrounding fields look like some sort of fancy pict, and the clouds gently scudding across the sky fill him with peace. He takes a deep breath of the fresh air and smiles. Obed loves this farm. Of course, he’s always loved it, especially in the mornings. His father always said… was it his father? Obed shakes his head. In the barn that looms next to the farm hab, he hears the sound of children laughing. The boys. His boys. They’ll need help in the barn. Behind him, the door thuds and rattles on its hinges. Something’s not right down there. That Emperor-damned generator needs fixing. Obed feels rage swelling inside him and can’t understand why.
He steps back into the cool hab and shakes his head. His wife is humming the Harvest Hymn. Somehow, it swells to a crescendo in his ears. The door thuds and rattles. He snarls like an animal and bounds towards it. His wife yells something indistinguishable. He snarls again. He doesn’t have a wife. He murdered her. Beat her to death with a juice pitcher when she found out about the altar in the basement. The door thuds constantly now, and he claws at the handle, but the lock won’t open. He doesn’t have the key. His hands are wrong, they’re not his hands; he doesn’t have hands. The door is shaking now and the hab shakes with it like a hivequake. What is a hivequake? The pain in his skull pounds along with the door now, and he shrieks, clawing at it with these mechanical tentacles that crackle and fizz, with eyes that see only heat and victims. A voice booms out, rattling the house, a voice he recognises from a nightmare.
The basement door flies open, and he wails like a daemon as–
Adiel-49X roars incoherently through his implanted vox unit as the electro-flails attached to his wrists rend the heretics before him. All is chaos and death, the sights and sounds of the raging battlefield forming an overwhelming cacophony of violence. Cold instinct cuts through the anarchy. His Ministorum masters make it clear. He must kill the enemies of the God-Emperor for his absolution. The cultists are screaming now. Their horror and pain merge into a thrilling symphony of suffering. His hideously powerful limbs propel him over a ramshackle barricade and straight into the wretches. Fountains of gore explode, and a haze of viscera hangs in the air. Adiel-49X looks down at his electro-flails, covered in heretic offal, and for a moment, they are hands, regular hands, covered in the dirt of some planet, but then the killing urge swells over him again, and heretics die and die and die.
When it is done, the arco-flagellant stands atop the butchered corpses and pants like a hound. There is nothing to kill. The pounding in his head is horrific. His ravaged mind races. What have they made him? Where is his wife? Why is there such pain? A scream builds within him. A voice booms out, rattling his augmetics, a voice he recognises from a nightmare.
The basement door slams shut. Obed shakes his head and can’t think of where the time has gone. The smell of freshly poured ploin juice catches up to him from the kitchen, and he walks away from the heavy, dark door. The generator thuds again behind him, softly now, and he shrugs. He’ll have to fix it one of these days if he can find the damn key.
About the Author
Raised in the grimbrightness of Orange County, Tristan managed to win a fan fiction competition for Bretonnian army collectors at the age of 16 and has been writing Warhammer stories ever since. When not doing work work, he enjoys reading books, saving Helmgart from the predations of Skaven, and trying to build up the courage to tackle his ever-expanding pile of unpainted miniatures.