Amoryl (amoryl) wrote,
Amoryl
amoryl

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wow. recently as none of you will likely know, i joined an online writing community based in the Warhammer 40k universe. for those of you who know nothing about that at all, it's a miniature tabletop wargame involving space marines, orks, chaos badguys, blueskinned aliens, and elves..er...eldar...yeah..no relation...anyway, it's sorta a fanfiction (although i like to beleive of a higher quality and less a direct rip off then your standard fan fiction)except that it rarely actually involves the use of established 40k charecters and is more of a part in a giant universe.

now where am i going with this you both may ask, well i'll tell you. in addition to having a large story archive and having members submit their own works, they held a writing contest called "The Great Big Christmas Contest" which oddly enough ended on march 25th. so given a time limit, and an introductory chapter to set the tone, i decided to put a couple words together and enter the contest.

much to my suprise and pleasure, my first ever submission to the site (indeed to any writing site) won the contest. keep in mind that i don't often write fiction (or anything, except the occasional essay and whatnot) and i'm not as familier on the 40k fluff (as they call the background and non basic rule stuff) as a great deal of the members of the site. but still, it has always been a skill, damn near an ingrained talent, to bullshit my way through things.

so i won the contest, and my reward is 75GBP worth of warhammer stuff, which translates to about $142USD. i picked a space marine megaforce set http://store.us.games-workshop.com/storefront/store.us?do=List_Models&code=302161&orignav=300866&ParentID=214072&GameNav=10 and it should arrive by fri or mon. yay me!

anyone wanting to see what won me the contest, read ahead...


Thesius grimaced once again at the memory of that day, the day his Chapter’s honor, its pride, its existence was stolen from them. Bitterness burned like bile in his stomach and burned through his blood as a near palpable rage built inside him.

Chaplain Zacharius caught sight of Thesius’ change in demeanor, “What dwells on your thoughts, Brother?”

“It is nothing, Chaplain,” Thesius began.

“Lies are an abomination, both to our Chapter, and to The Emperor our Father Most High!” snapped the Chaplain, “Confess your soul now Brother Thesius, Truth is our only defense against obliteration.”

“It is wrong,” Thesius growled angrily, “we were cast out like dogs. Whipped and beaten with our tails between our legs! And our brothers did nothing. NOTHING! While filthy lies and false accusations made us excommunicate!” Thesius was shaking uncontrollably at this point.

“Calm yourself Thesius! Calm yourself!” With visible effort Thesius controlled himself. “Speak to me whom it was who is responsible for our disgrace.”

“Inquisitor Balthezar” Thesius replied at once.

“And whom does Inquisitor Balthezar serve?”

“The Emperor our Father Most High” came the instant reply.

“And what says that of our Emperor?” the question, spoken as barely a whisper.

“The Emperor has been betrayed! Betrayed by Inquisitor Balthezar!” the reply was husky with smoldering anger.

“And our brothers, the other Chapters?”

“They have been tricked, fooled by the lies of Inquisitor Balthezar and his cronies” a calmness began to show in Thesius’ voice as reason began to implant itself over his emotions. “Yes, Brother Thesius, blame not our Brothers nor the Holy Emperor for what has befallen us. Save your righteous anger for him who deserves it. Save your anger for Inquisitor Balthezar.”

Thesius’ mind, detached now as it was emblazoned before, remembered the charges of heresy piled upon his Chapter. Inquisitor Balthezar laid accusation after accusation, each more serious then the last. The evidence had been as damning as it had been false. But worst of all, the final claim, that they had refused the yearly submission of the gene seed tithe. Thesius did not know if the records were doctored, or if Inquisitor Balthezar’s agents had somehow stolen their gene seeds en route. Ultimately it did not matter, both possibilities were virtually impossible, and the implications were too frightening to even consider.

“Come, Brother Thesius, you have shown me that perhaps it is time for another purification cycle for all of us. We can none of us show weakness, not while Chaos waits at our doorstep.”

***


The high ceiling Hall of Worship was packed with Space Marines, heads bowed. The great hall shook with the voices of the faithful.

“Though in Darkness Chaos waits. Though in the Shadows Chaos hunts.” Intoned Chaplain Zacharius.

“In the light of the Emperor we are sheltered. In his brilliance we are armored.” Chanted the Marines.

“Though long is the path we tread. Though perilous are our steps”

“The Emperor is our Torch, He lights our way. His is the Beacon that guides us to Salvation”

“Sweet are the whispers of Corruption, great are their promises.”

“There is no way but that of the Emperor. All paths else lead to damnation”

“Yet the burden of humanity’s safety is great”

“There is no sacrifice greater then that which the Emperor has already made. There is no honor greater then to die in his service”

Now both the Chaplain and the Marines chanted together, “Father Emperor Most High, light our way home. Show to us the path we must tread, strengthen us against the temptations of Chaos. Watch over us as we watch over your faithful, give to us the power to be their bulwark against the storm of oblivion”

“Brothers, a dark time hangs upon the Imperium. Abbadon’s forces are marshaling to strike against Cadia, and spill through into the realms of Man. I need not tell you what will happen if the gates fall.”

“Brothers, the Ordo Hereticus has claimed us heretics, as you well know. To go to Cadia, to do our holy duty there would be suicide. Worse, it would draw the attention of our brother Marines, and the Guard away from the true threat of the Traitor Legions.”

“What then can we do?” asked a Marine whom the Chaplain chose not to recognize.

“We will not stand idle while the Imperium falls around us, brothers!” The Chaplain roared.

“We will fight, brothers! Cadia may be barred to us, but the Traitor Legions will not strike there alone! A dozen worlds will face their corrupt touch, and in those worlds, left vulnerable by the dire need of Cadia, will we be there.”

“But first, my brothers, first we must deal with the traitor who claimed us heretic. We must find why this was done. We must find the purpose behind his treachery. And brothers, when we have learned the truth, we will scour Inquisitor Balthezar and every traitor who serves him from existence!”

“FOR THE EMPEROR, FOR HONOR, FOR THE EMPEROR!” roared the Marines as one.

***

Captain Sunders relaxed in his command chair. This was a simple supply run, deep in the heart of Imperial space and one the Tranquility had run a hundred times before. He glanced around the bridge, pleased to see that, even now near the end of this long boring trip, his bridge crew remained alert.

Sunders sighed, debating coffee when the ship alarms began to blare. His sensor officer straightened in shock. “Sir! Three Strike Cruisers just translated into N-Space!”

“Sir, Cruisers adopting interdict pattern”

Sunders’ jaw dropped. Space Marines were not uncommon in this region of space, but for the most part they left merchant ships well enough alone. What then, were these doing?

“Johnson, get me an Ident on those Cruisers,” Sunders ordered the sensor officer, “Alberts, hail them, find out what the hell they think they’re doing!”

“Sir,” Johnson blurted, “I have positive Ident on the three Strike Cruisers. Sir, they’re Swords of the Emperor!”

“Shit! Initiate evasion pattern Alpha! Bring us to..”

“Sir, we’re being hailed!”

A voice boomed over the bridge’s comm system, “merchant vessel Tranquility this is Strike Cruiser Wrath, you are ordered to stand to and prepare to be boarded. Any attempt at resistance will be met with your total destruction.”

“Sir, what do we...”

“We surrender, we have no choice. Lets pray they only want our cargo.” Sunders didn’t really believe what he just told his crew, but he’d be damned if he knew why three heretic Cruisers would risk a raid this deep in Imperial space over a freighter carrying basic foodstuffs and machinery.

***

The crew was grouped together in the main cargo hold with a brisk efficiency and a surprising lack of force. Sunders forced himself to appear outwardly calm and unconcerned. The crew needed their captain to be in control, or at the very least appear to be in control.

The Marines filed into the cargo hold, anonymous in their power armor and helmets. They took up guard positions, covering the captured crew without being overtly hostile, their weapons ready but not pointed at the frightened spacers. A Marine, his armor more ornate then the rest, and bareheaded marched in, scanned the freighters crew briefly, then addressed the captain directly.

“Captain, I regret the necessity of our meeting. I assure you that both you and your crew will be treated with the utmost courtesy for the entirety of our association.”

“Who the hell are you, and what do you want with my ship” Sunders demanded.

The Marine laughed, a great bellowing laugh that sounded like a rockslide. “Three cruisers surrounding your ship, and a hold full of Space Marines fail to cow you, captain, you do your crew and the Imperium proud. I am Commander Aestivus of The Emperor’s Swords. And what I want is simple, I have need of your ship.”

“My ship? What use could my ship possibly be to you?”

“Fear not, Captain, I assure you that when this ordeal is over your ship, if we survive, will be returned to you.” the Commander turned to a Marine waiting at his right hand, “Escort Tranquility’s crew to their temporary quarters, Captain, if you would join me aboard the Wrath, I believe you are do an explanation.

***


Commander Aestivus settled into his command chair as he and Sunders entered the bridge.
“Captain, as you are no doubt aware, The Emperor’s Swords has been accused of heresy” found guilty of and declared heretics, Sunders thought, but wasn’t foolish enough to say aloud. Commander Aestivus was huge, towering over even the other Space Marines. Sunders, though considered a large man himself, seemed tiny in the presence of the Marines surrounding him.

If Aestivus wondered what thoughts lay hidden behind the Captain’s purposely blank face, he gave no sign of it. “I tell you this, Captain, that charge is a lie. And I aim to find out why.”

“What does my ship and my crew have to do with any of..”

“Your ship will land on Terra, where our ships cannot!” Thundered Aestivus, “you, and your crew, will remain our guests while your ship transports a small squad of Marines to Terra to deal with the traitor who robbed the Emperor of his servants.”

“Why tell me this? What do I have to do with any of this?” Sunders asked, truly confused.

“I require your help, your ship is not enough. I need landing codes, manifests, and information on docking. I have a crew to take your ship into port, but I need your help to smooth over any rough edges that may alert the docking authorities.”

“Why the hell should I help you?” Sunders blurted, “you’re heretics! In the eyes of Imperial Law you’re traitors! Helping you would make me and my crew traitors as well!”

Aestivus leapt out of his chair, his face mottled with rage. Sunders froze as Aestivus’ gauntleted hand rose to crush his skull. With visible effort Aestivus controlled his anger. Great shuddering breaths filled his chest as he calmed.

“Please Captain,” Aestivus said. Sunders couldn’t have been more surprised at the words then if Aestivus declared himself a Sister of Battle in disguise, “we need your help.” Aestivus shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. “The Imperium is on the brink of chaos. And we cannot be there to stop it. The charge of heresy was a lie, Captain. It was a vile filthy lie. But it was a very carefully orchestrated lie. Did we not know the truth ourselves, even we would believe the charges, in truth there were those among us who did indeed believe those lies. Do you not understand, Captain, what this portends? Think carefully, Captain, IF what I say is true, if The Emperor’s Swords were falsely accused, if the charges laid against us were lies, then there are traitors even among the Inquisition. Worse yet, the risk this Inquisitor must have taken to brand us heretic, was great. What could be worth that risk? I tell you true, I do not yet know. I don’t know why we were betrayed, or to what end. I know only that such a risk’s reward can only spell disaster for the Imperium and for mankind. The truth is on Terra, Captain, and to Terra we must go to find this truth. For the sake of the Emperor, for the sake of mankind, we cannot sit idle while Chaos infects the deepest ranks of our Imperium.”

Sunders stood stunned. The raw truth of what Commander Aestivus said hung in the air between them almost palpable. “I...I will help you, Commander.” He heard himself say.

***

Tranquility, thanks to Captain Sunders’ help, landed without incident. Dock crews and Customs officials performed their cursory inspections with the bored indifference of men who’ve repeated a task again and again until it became something even less then reflex. The single squad of Marine Scouts hidden in specially constructed shipping crates remained unnoticed by the inspector’s scanning equipment.

Captain Sunders crossed into the hold flanked by his “crew” to make certain all was clear before releasing the Marines. Sunders had insisted that he retain command of the Tranquility, for while on rare occasions an entire crew must be replaced, an entirely new crew and captain was bound to raise suspicion. The rest of the crew was made up of spacers from the Emperor’s Swords home world of Feros, who’s own freighters would have inevitably been searched with much greater care and thoroughness.

The Marines, led by Sgt. Tobias, filed into the main cargo hold. “We’ll wait until night, then we’ll be off your ship, Captain.” the Sgt. Said. “Arrangements have been made on another freighter for our departure, so you are free to go as soon as you wish. We thank you, Captain, this trip would not have gone so smoothly without your help.”

“Save your thanks, Sergeant, I’ll just be glad to have my crew back unharmed.”

“We would not harm your crew unnecessarily, Captain. Even were this mission to fail, your crew would have been released when we were able to do so.”
“Yes, I hope you’re right, Sergeant, about everything.”

The Sergeant’s replying grin was bleak, “So do I, Captain, so do I.”

***

Sgt. Tobias huddled in the alleyway as the enforcer patrol drove past. Scout Xavius, crouching behind the refuse containers on the other side of the alley gave the hand signals “one man, armed, on foot, approaching”. The Marines remained motionless as the enforcer passed the alley to huddle near a heating vent.

A sudden motion behind Sgt. Tobias caused him to turn. Some form of animal, street vermin, suddenly spooked at the unexpected presence of the huge marines. In panic the creature jostled a refuse container in it’s flight to safety.

“Halt! Who goes there?”

Damn! The enforcer had his weapon raised, pointed at the alleyway. The Scout at the mouth of the alleyway turned to the Sergeant for an order. They were too close, too close to fail now. The Sergeant gave the nod and the Scout tossed a small stone from his feet overhead across the alleyway. He was moving the moment the enforcer turned to the new sound. By the time the enforcer realized he’d been tricked it was already too late, the Scout was there. The enforcer turned his head just in time to see the towering figure of the scout, covered in light absorbing robes reaching his hands towards him. The look of abject terror remained on his face as the Scout snapped his neck in a quick well practiced twist.

The rest of the squad was flooding out of the alleyway, and up the stairway, the last Marine lifting the dead enforcer as he passed.

“Help! We’ve got an enforcer down here!” the Scout shouted up the stairway.

The desk guard, just getting up from his seat stopped in shock as the squad flooded out of the stairway, bolt pistols training on him.

“Do not move” the Scout rushed forward, and with the smooth economy of a professional, tied and gagged the guard.

The marine holding the body of the enforcer carefully positioned it onto the chair behind the desk, arranging the body to look as though it were sleeping. Another marine began pulling long bundles of dull grey fabric from his satchel. When a current was run through the cloth, it would blend into the surroundings. It was not a perfect disguise, movement would blur and minute inspection would show faint contours, but for the task at hand it would be sufficient.

***

“We have movement. Three hards, one soft” the Marine Sniper concealed on a nearby roof announced over the tight band comm line.

Minutes later the Sergeant heard the tramp of feet on the stairs, the imperious demand to the dead guard, and the shocked exclamation as they realized the guard was not in fact sleeping, but very very dead. One of the bodyguards, identifiable by the heavy thumping of his boots and the speed at which he entered the room, spun around looking for a threat. Two other marines hidden behind the same concealment screen as the Sergeant slipped out directly behind the other two guards, well trained, they began to spin the moment they sensed movement, but the Marines were even better trained and were already clamping their arms around them. The moment the Marines grabbed the guards they activated their teleports and were gone. The other man spun at the sound only to find nothing, no enemy, no guards behind him. Another sound spun him back to find the third bodyguard gone as well. In terror he tried to run, but the Sergeant was already behind him, bolt pistol already dropping against the back of the man’s head.

***

“Dammit!” Inquisitor Balthezar shouted. The messenger shied away from him in fear, while the rest of the Inquisitor’s servants, carefully ignored the entire conversation.

“What happened to him?” Balthezar demanded, “Where the hell is he?”

“I...I don’t know.” Whimpered the messenger. “The enforcers found nothing but the body of another enforcer. There was no other sign of a struggle.”

“Damn, damn, damn. I was so close! It was almost within my hands!” The Inquisitor whispered. “You!” he grabbed the messenger roughly by the shirt, “You will speak none of this to anyone, or on my oath as an Inquisitor I’ll have you burned alive for heresy!”

“Yes, Lord Inquisitor, yes of course! Not a word, not a word to anyone!” Inquisitor Balthezar had already dismissed the messenger from his mind, as well as nearly throwing him out of his office.

Who took him, who kidnaped Van Devlin? Balthezar did not think It mere coincidence that so soon after his declaration of heresy against The Swords of the Emperor that the agent primary in altering the reports on the Chapter’s gene seed submission would suddenly go missing. No, that little toad was too greedy, he would not pass up a chance at the promises Balthezar had made him. Even if that were likely, the dead enforcer implied someone else’s hand in this. But who’s? Perhaps another agent trying to find the artifact before he did. It stood to reason that those whom Balthezar served (he would not speak, no, not even think their name, not here) would have more then just one.

A cold shudder swept through Balthezar. What if it were another Inquisitor? It was an unimaginable risk he took declaring a Marine Chapter heretic. Even as thorough as he was, there was the possibility of loose ends, evidence that all was not what it seemed. Balthezar had counted on speed and surprise to cover most of his tracks, at least for a while. A growl escaped his clenched teeth. The Swords of the Emperor were not caught completely by surprise though. Someone had warned them in time. As the punitive fleet arrived to obliterate them from orbit, they found the last of the Chapter’s own fleet already leaving. Though pursued, most of the Chapter eluded the wrath of the Imperium. And with their escape went the artifact Balthezar so desperately sought. Damn them damn them all!

But if Van Devlin was in the hands of the Inquisition, then it was only a matter of time, perhaps as few as hours before Balthezar was implicated. He had hoped to have acquired the artifact and
made his escape to where his master could protect him.

A small laugh escaped his lips. Even to Balthezar the laugh sounded hysterical. His master would not accept him without the artifact. There was no safety there or here without the artifact. He had to do something now. But what?

Balthezar was trembling. His movements quick and uncoordinated from panic. He had to talk to his master, beg for more time, for safety. He had to find out who had Van Devlin and why. Quickly pulling on his coat, he all but ran from the office, and the building that would be his death sentence if the wrong people had Van Devlin.

Balthezar was little more then a kilometer from his office when a hand reached out of the alleyway and dragged him in.

“Our master is very disappointed in you.” A cloaked figure whispered. “Very disappointed.”

“Who are you? Do you know who I am? How dare you manhandle me!” Balthezar growled, attempting to cover his shock and fear with angry bravado. “Touch me again, worm, and I’ll show you exactly who you’re dealing with!”

The backhand slammed Balthezar into the wall. “And who am I talking to, hmm? The fallen corrupt Inquisitor? Or perhaps I’m speaking to the lapdog who has done nothing but fail our master. Tell me little dog, why should I have fear of you.”

“I..it wasn’t my fault.” Balthezar pleaded, all trace of bluster gone, “They were warned! I almost had the artifact, but they fled with it before I arrived!”

“There is time enough to get the artifact, fool. My master has waited nearly ten millennia for all the pieces, no, this temporary setback means nothing to our master. You, you let your greedy little worm get captured. Captured by the very ones you were charged to destroy!”

“What? Swords of the Emperors took Van Devlin? How do you know this?”

“That’s not important, dog, what’s important is what Van Devlin knows. You put too many eggs in the same basket, dog. Van Devlin knew too much. Bad enough he could implicate you, worse, he might give enough to reveal why. If the artifact is destroyed, then our master’s wrath with be great.”

The universe seemed to be collapsing around Balthezar. The Swords of the Emperor had Van Devlin? Desperately he tried to remember if Van Devlin was ever exposed to the search for the artifact. It might not be too late if he wasn’t. Even with Van Devlin, the Swords couldn’t go to the Inquisition, not directly.

“I don’t...I’m sure that Van Devlin doesn’t know anything about the artifact.” Balthezar asserted. “The Swords can’t connect anything through him.”

“No, perhaps not. But you can. Be very careful Inquisitor, you walk a thin line now, and your usefulness will not long overshadow your failures. Clean your lose ends, find the artifact, or our next meeting will not be so pleasant...well, for you anyway.”

***

It became a race between Balthezar and the Swords of the Emperor. Each hunting down anyone connected to the Inquisitor and to the Excommunication. Despite Balthezar’s greater knowledge of his agents the damn Marines were finding them faster then he was able to eliminate them.

Already there was enough evidence to ruin Balthezar. His only safety lay in who it was who was gathering the evidence. The Swords of the Emperor couldn’t take any of their evidence directly to the Inquisition, not and have any of it believed. So first they must find overwhelming irrefutable evidence against him, and an intermediary with no obvious connections to them to present their proof.

That bought Balthezar time, but not much. The speed at which the Swords were collecting his agents spoke of an organization beyond just the members of the chapter. That was clear by their mere presence on Terra, and would also explain how they escaped his trap the first time. It was, Balthezar thought, very possible the Swords already had everything they needed to bring him down. Whereas Balthezar still had nothing with which to stop them.

Balthezar’s servant was finishing the packing of his master’s luggage. Balthezar had no choice left, it was flight or death. Well damn them if they thought he was going to stand here while they dropped the noose around his neck. He had a ship ready, the crew was known and trusted, but still didn’t know who they were transporting. He’d be gone in little more then an hour, and it would be days before anyone realized he was no longer on Terra.

***

Balthezar walked out of the main doors onto a street filled with Guardsmen headed by four Inquisitors. The moment he stepped through, the door slammed behind him and the Guard’s weapons snapped up to point as one, towards him.

“Inquisitor Balthezar, I believe you have some things that needs explaining to us” the senior most Inquisitor said. “You will accompany us for a...conversation.” his grin was wicked and full of the promise of a very painful, and very long interrogation for Inquisitor Balthezar.

***

Sgt. Johannson fumbled desperately for his lasgun. It had fallen just out of reach when he was knocked to the ground. He looked up as the mutant raised the butt of his weapon to crush the sergeant’s skull.

The mutant’s eyes suddenly widened in shock as a chainsword suddenly seemed to erupt from his face. Sgt. Johannson turned his head away as blood, brains, and bone shrapnel sprayed him. Towering over him was the figure of a Space Marine in blood drenched power armor and chainsword.

The Marine reached down and lifted the sergeant with as little effort as if he were a child. “Come Little Brother, there is no time for naps while heretics hold the field” the Marine laughed hollowly.

Sgt. Johannson picked up his lasgun as the marine charged into the seething mass of heretics and mutants, chainsword scything right and left, bolt pistol snapping round after round into the crushing wave of Chaos. A shot got through the armor of the Marine, and he dropped to a knee. The enemy, seeing the Marine wounded flooded in for the kill. Dozens of mutants and men leapt onto him, only to die bloodily from the bolt pistol and chainsword. The Marine was a whirlwind of death and destruction until sheer weight of numbers finally dragged him down.

Sgt. Johannson was knocked back as the concussion wave of a frag grenade hit him. The Marine, as a last act of defiance, set off the grenade right on top of him. The resulting explosion killed him, and everyone around him. Sgt. Johannson survived simply because of the sheer number of enemies between him and the frag grenade absorbed all of the shrapnel, leaving only the concessive blast when it reached him.

A terrible shrieking sound came from overhead. A missile erupted into the mass of the enemy. Then another, then another. A dozen Thunderhawk Gun ships overflew the ragged Imperial guard lines firing into the advancing enemy. Space Marines with jump packs leapt from the sides, firing even as they decended.

An enemy missile hit a gun ship just between an engine and the fuel tank. Flames errupted from both simultaneously and spread throughout the craft. Space Marines leapt desperately from the stricken gun ship, the last several caught in the explosion as the ship broke apart. Sgt. Johannson watched as a marine with half his jetpack destroyed spiraled headfirst into the ground.

The suddenness and viciousness of the Space Marine’s arrival threw the enemy lines into disarray. Sgt. Johannson stole a look down the lines, everywhere else the Imperial Guard was forced back. Only here, where the Marines came was the enemy itself forced back.

“Guardsmen!” the sergeant yelled. “FOR THE EMPEROR!”

The call was taken up down the line, and the Imperial Guard surged forward into the gap opened by the Space Marine’s attack.

***

Sgt. Johannson walked among the slaughter and wreckage of the battle. There were places you could walk for almost half a kilometer without ever touching the ground, so great were the number of dead. A glimpse of color turned his head. Reaching down, Sgt. Johannson picked up a shoulder plate from a Space Marine’s power armor. The shoulder plate was scarred and chipped from the grenade that killed both it’s Marine and his enemies. Emblazoned on the plate was a sword shining gold against the deep red of the background.

A hand clapped down on his shoulder, and he stiffened in surprise, clutching the shoulder plate of the Marine who had saved his life against his chest.

“What’d you find there, Sergeant?” Commissar Ander asked.

Sgt. Johannson held up the shoulder plate for the Commissar to see.

“I’ll be damned!” started the Commissar, “That’s the Swords of the Emperor!”

“Who?”

“They went heretic a couple years ago, I heard. The Inquisition excommunicated them, but they got away before they could be purged. I wonder what they were doing here?”

“What do you mean, Commissar?” the sergeant asked.

“It’s known that the forces of Chaos will fight among themselves at times. Maybe something like that happened here.”

“NO!” Sgt. Johannson growled, forgetting in his sudden anger whom he was addressing. “Oh! I’m...I’m sorry Commissar! I forgot myself. But...sir? I’m just a soldier, I don’t understand about stuff like that. But, sir, I can’t bring myself to believe that of them. I can’t believe that they were merely fighting each other. Sir, they saved us, no ifs ands or buts, we were losing until they came. They saved our asses sir! He,” Sgt. Johannson gestured to the shoulder plate, “saved my ass.” He remembered the marine calling him “Little Brother” before rushing to his death. “Sir they died for us here. They sacrificed themselves to break an opening for us to rally through, and I refuse, sir, I refuse to believe they were traitors when they did that!”

The Commissar looked at Sgt. Johannson, face unreadable. “You’re right, son, you don’t understand these things. You don’t understand the lure of Chaos and the machinations of the enemy. You don’t have to understand those things, soldier, that’s the job for those like me. Your job is to do your duty, the duty we tell you.” the Commissar smiled at the sergeant. “But...I think you’re right. I saw what happened today, hell boy I have eyes same as you. None of us would be here now were it not for them. I’ve seen Chaos, I’ve seen heretics and traitors. I’ve heard their lies and their promises and seen them betray themselves. But son, I have never, in all my years seen anything to explain what happened today except for one. I’ve seen the Emperor’s Angels of Death scour a battlefield clean of the enemy. And that’s what I saw today.”

the Commissar looked down at the shoulder plate before handing it back to the sergeant. I can’t do much, son, but I’ll ask some questions.” the Commissar grinned, “it wouldn’t surprise me if there was another look into this whole “heresy” matter. But either way, we won’t forget who the heros today were, will we?”

“No SIR!” Sgt. Johannson replied, crushing the shoulder plate to his chest, his eyes damp, “Not for as long as I live.”
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