He was here at last. She felt His putrid corruption filling the air again. Finally, after all this time, the thickly sweet stench of untreatable failing flesh was amongst them. Archive Library 368 Beta held the personal and tax details for the Hive’s lowest levels. A devoted staff of Administratum personnel monitored, amended and disposed of endless shelves filled with countless files, each one representing a Hive dweller’s life.
When the Astra Militarum came to make the Hive’s first founding, it brought with it new, off-world Administratum personnel. Starched clothes, shining bionics and surrounded by the smell of purity. They were bound to notice.
Librarian Leilani Santand escorted Administratum Inspector Reubeus Abaala in his review of outstanding conscription levies. The lift descended into the archive, and she drummed her bionic fingers against her red-robed hips. The hidden blue fading tattoo on her forearm had at last begun to ache again, and the ringing in her ears was back. As the lift slowed and the doors slid open, Reubeus’ nose twitched.
‘You have a vermin problem. I can’t place it, but that smell.’ His voice wavered off as he walked down the first row of shelving, pushing a cart in front of him. She followed, her tongue darting over her teeth. Her gums hurt.
‘He will notice, fix it!’ His silent voice darted through her skull. Reubeus ran his hand along the rows, selecting, at random, metal files from the shelves and placing them onto the cart. The human cost of the Emperor’s wars stacking up on a pushcart in an archive. Reubeus came to the end of the row and paused. Turn right, she willed, oblivious to her plea, he turned left. He continued to run his fingers over the files, getting ever closer to His. Reubeus’ hand touched His file, and Reubeus recoiled as if stung. The sticky, wretched aroma of demise filled the air. A capillary in the white of Reubeus’ left eye had split, and his voice cracked as he spoke,
‘Whose file is that?’
Leilani approached the file. The smell seemed to be everywhere, now cascading down into their lungs. She glanced at Reubeus; sweat poured down his paling face, his white starched collar turning yellow at the edges. Now, two bloodshot eyes stared back at her.
‘Open it?’ Reubeus had meant it to sound like a command. Leilani took the file from the shelf, turned to face the Inspector and eased it open.
Bloated insects poured from within. A black tide of flies swarmed over them. Filling mouths, nostrils, ears and blotting out the strip lights. She saw the symbol inside shake Reubeus to the soul. Her ten severed fingers nailed to the inside, arranged in an eight-pointed star with a circular centre. Leilani shut her eyes tight. She revelled in the sweet return of His touch. She concentrated, clearing her mind. The frantic buzzing in her ears slowed to a monotone. Pure white focus came to her. Lailani’s pulse slowed; she felt the return of His familiar ice-cold phantom fingers creep over her skin and her bald head. His shrill laugh echoed inside her brain, and she felt the homecoming gift of longed-for childhood pain. They had sent her halfway around the galaxy, prayed for her soul for ten years, and He had found her at last.
Reubeus slammed the file closed, and Leilani fell to her knees. Simultaneously, the ocean of flies dropped to the floor and lay in a thick carpet of blue ash. She looked up at Reubeus; his black jacket was spattered with white vomit with flecks marking the mirror polish of his boots.
Fix it! His soundless voice echoed through her bones. She sprang from her knees and ripped at Reubeus’ face with her bionic hands. Her teeth sank deeply into the soft flesh of his throat. With the sweet taste of death thick in her throat again, she spoke aloud.
‘This time, I am ready. Please use me as your Host.’
Her head lolled on a limp neck, and she could feel the festering tendrils of rot creep up into her elbow from the tattoo. Boils had emerged under her armpits and were already raw and soiled, and it felt divine. Her tongue flicked between now rotten teeth stumps as the lift came to a halt at the lobby level. She muttered beneath her breath.
‘I am no longer a child. At last, I am ready. The conditions are set. I have found you so many people. Let the pestilence take them all.’ She spat the last words out from a foaming mouth, and the Administratum staff in the lobby glanced nervously her way.
She limped across the lobby; sweat, or was it blood, oozed from the sores in her armpits, and the tattoo itched deliciously under her robes. A single tear of pure joy welled in the corner of her eye. She had waited so long for this. She let the divine agony inside pour out. Her head snapped back, and her knees buckled. His pale, dead fingers came out of her mouth, tearing the useless jaw away from the base of the skull. Her soft flesh had failed, but His pestilence within endured. A trillion flies filled the air, and Mol’blorthrok birthed Himself again from the broken body.
By the end of the first day, flies covered every surface from the outer habs to the highest spires. It only took the pestilence two days after that to touch every living being in the entire Hive. By the fourth day, millions of desperate plague-ridden humans had flocked to the Archive to be gifted the sweet release of death by Mol’blorthrok. He bathed in puss and rot as it oozed from the mass graves His plague victims mindlessly dug for themselves. On the twelfth day, he squirmed and cackled with sheer delight, gazing to the stars as the Imperium rained orbital shells onto the living, dead and rotten alike.
Max has always been into creating stories and makes his own spin off worlds and tales from science fiction and historical battles when time allows. Hailing from the south of England, he has been penning ideas and developing characters for years. Sometimes they even come together into a story.