4.67/5 (3)

Honraz Abalax stood before the smoking mass of the only drop pod that missed the landing zone. The serenity of the post-battle scene was broken by the stirring of debris and loud coughing. His soot-covered thrall soon emerged from the wreckage holding a black sphere.

‘I’ve found it master!’ he exclaimed, kneeling as he held out the device. 

Taking the sphere into his gauntleted hands, he tapped into the recordings stored in the pod’s black box and watched his warriors’ final moments displayed in his helmet visor. 

‘Brothers,’ a reedy voice began, ‘I must,’ he paused, ‘confess.’

‘What is it now Goll?’ spat Forbek. ‘Last I checked, we were not Sons of Lorgar. There are no confessors for you here.’

‘Let him speak, Forbek,’ said Sergeant Galtor, ‘I require some entertainment. Go on then Goll. What is your confession?’ spoke the sergeant, inclining his head toward the morose marine. 

‘I have been missing our cousins as of late,’ replied Goll, his words heavy with grief, and confusion.

Lakamin laughed with a phlegmy guffaw while poking at Goll’s temple with his armoured finger. ‘Well, of course you have! I’ve seen you during target practice! How do you expect to hit anything with your shoddy aim? You should try wearing a helmet, brother. Let the auto senses do the work for you!’

‘No, you misunderstand. I MISS them.’

Silence hung in the air as the four astartes processed the words they had just heard, their disgust and confusion showing clearly in their hulking armoured frames. 

Drawing the bolt pistol mag locked to his thigh, Skalatrix levelled the weapon at Goll’s head.

 ‘So, you want to go crawling back to the corpse Emperor? Is that it? If so, I will gladly send you there myself, you pathetic worm!’ he spat, the venom and fury in words spiking the combat senses of all those present in the drop pod. 

A look of disappointment washed over Goll’s face as he attempted to reply, but he was silenced by his Sergeant.

‘Enough! Lower your weapon. You say he is a worm. I say worms are unworthy of your bolt rounds. Now get ahold of yourself, before I send you to lead the charge alongside the human chattel you seem to be acting like!’

Seeing his warrior sufficiently cowed, he continued.

‘Goll, explain yourself before I let Skalatrix and the rest send you to the nine hells.’ 

Goll settled into the restraints before speaking again. 

‘I do not miss the corpse emperor and his dead Imperium. We all broke our oaths to that demon clad in fool’s gold, and I intend to keep it broken. What I mean is I miss our cousins. I miss the war we used to wage together, the things we built with the blood we shed—the brotherhood we created beneath the gaze of our genefathers. I miss the legions we once were, united in purpose, bound together by ambition for more. Now, look at us,’ Goll gestured towards the warriors and the craft they rode in. ‘A collection of broken metal and twisted flesh, less than the shells of our former selves, stuck in a cycle of endless war and degradation. When we broke from the Imperium, I was told we would make the galaxy burn, but all we burned were bridges.’

‘And ourselves,’ added Forbek.

 A crackling servitor voice shouted imminent impact warnings as flak rounds from the ground began to shred the sky, opening a gaping hole in the drop pod. Warning claxons blared, indicating the craft had begun spinning wildly off course.

‘I once crafted a striking hammer for an Iron Hand. His name was Crorr. I later found it in the rubble of Istvan, nestled in a smoking crater broken and covered in burning viscera. I had been the one to range in the shot,’ said Lakamin.

‘There was a White Scar, Khunbish, who taught me how to get more lift when launching an attack bike. We would race from time to time afterwards. I saw his helmet gracing the trophy rack of a Black Legionnaire. Enraged, I challenged the champion to a duel for it. I lost,’ said Forbek, holding a hand to his side, rubbing a wound beneath his armour. 

‘A Salamander, Nar’ Kelm, once asked me to draft plans for a clockwork automaton of a chariot. He said it would make an excellent toy for the children of the world his company was being sent to. They were recalled to support the forces at the drop site massacre. We-we caught their ship and destroyed it while they aided escaping loyalists,’ Spoke Skalatrix, his voice a cold whisper nearly choked out by the howl of the smoke and fire filling the pod chamber.

Galtor spoke last, his skin burning away with every word.

 ‘A bastard son of Dorn bested me in single combat every day for a year during a joint purging of a set of rim worlds. Each time I fell, he would critique my ‘poor’ form while offering me his hand. I never took it, but he always smiled and asked me to find him when I was ready for more improvement. During the siege of terra, I sought him out at the gates. I later found him, beaten but not broken, having just felled one of Angron’s Berserkers. I could see the pain and fury in his eyes behind the broken lenses of his helm. Our final duel lasted for hours, neither of us giving an inch till he struck me down. In his stupor, he dropped his sword and gave me his hand. I took it and rammed my blade into his hearts. His name was Bran Torgismund, and I miss him every da-’

Galtor’s last words were overtaken by the deafening boom of the pod as it crashed.

‘Master?’ asked the thrall, sensing a change in his master’s demeanour as he watched him remove his helmet and stare into the burning sky.

‘Destroy it,’ whispered Honraz.

About the Author

Jakob is an aspiring author born and raised in south Texas. Lover of cats, all things mecha, and most things Sci-fi, his writing influences range from William Gibson all the way to Nezahualcoyotl. When he’s not working as a Grant Writer for a local non-profit, he’s indulging in his healthy obsession with the Warhammer 40,000 universe, painting plastic minis, and writing the occasional TTRPG adventure.