So I found an old story I had written a few hundred words for yonks ago. As usual I’d gotten nowhere with it. I had begun to get annoyed with how my army had become the pretty perfect poster boys of 40k.
Thank you Matt Ward.
I aimed to rectify this by putting a bit of darkness and intrigue at the very heart of the Chapter. Anyway, I’ve given it a bit of a tweak, and brought it up to 1000 words. This is a prologue. Let me know what you think:
If you look up the history of the Ultramarines, it is written that the entire 1st Company was killed defending Macragge’s Northern polar fortress from an innumerable Tyranid horde.
It is said they stood and fought, buying time and losing ground, at the cost of their own lives to the last.
At the Feast of Death in the late autumn of Macragge, 100 names are read aloud to the silence of awed reverence.
The Chapter records are wrong.
Only two men know.
…One is listed as dead.
He woke. As usual he was restrained, the cold metal biting the skin on his arms. Having been there for decades, the feeling became welcome as a reminder that he was alive.
The Space Marine had long ago given up any hope his eyes worked, he didn’t even try to look around anymore.
He drew a long breath through his nose. The air was dry, and somehow thick.
“I take it I have not been moved then?” his voice croaked as he spoke, for his throat was parched. He coughed.
“It is two-hundred and fifty five years to the day that your Company died, yet you did not. Why were you spared?” A voice boomed, from all about.
“Every year on this day, or simply when you are bored, you take me out of statis, come here and ask the same questions.
Questions I have already answered, or simply have no answer to. The smell is the same. Although it is disguised, I know your voice is the same, Questionneer. Am I not being transferred to the Inquisition? I would like someone new to talk to…”
“Level six,” ordered the Questionneer. A Shock of electricity ran through the metal restraints and made visions of random colours flash across the prisoner’s black vision. “Eventually Sergeant, you will respect there is no point in resisting or being insolent.”
A silence, as the prisoner comes back to his senses. An eternity of a few moments.
“Thank you, I had an itch. Oddly that took my mind off it.”
“Level nine!” Commanded the Questionneer.
Enough electricity to cripple a grox danced through the Astartes’ body, any normal human would have died at level four, but the Astartes frame could take it up to eleven. That didn’t make the pain any less, but from somewhere within he manages to shout “This is all you have?! I am a Son of Guilliman! I have fought against the Horrors that assail Mankind!” The electro-shock stops; heaving his breath, he continues: “This is cowardice. You keep me alive for your own amusement and nothing more Questionneer, I have told you all I know. Either kill me or free me, this is no way for an Astartes to live, and though clearly you haven’t had enough of our little chats…I have, that is all you’ll have from me. I am Maximus Ixxom, Brother-Sergeant of ‘The Beheaders’ in the Ultramarines First Company. I will not answer to you, Questionneer, only the Captain of The First, Lord Macragge, or Guilliman himself.”
The sound of bare feet against rockcrete greets Ixxom’s ears, barely noticeable against the hum of air feeds. What feels like a rock smashes against the left side of his head. “I used to call you friend, Maximus.” The Questionneer grabbed Ixxom’s head, still swimming, with one hand and Ixxom hears a switch being flicked, with what must be the other. “Visual inhibitors off,” said a more familiar voice as the vocal scrambler powers down, “You wish to speak with Lord Macragge? Well. Maybe we should invite Young Calgar here.”
His vision returned, but he did not like what he saw. Who he saw. This Astartes was an old, almost a cruel caricature of how he was, and looking the old Chaplain’s broken, heavily-bionic visage over Ixxom weakly says, “Ortan, what happened to you?”
Another strike to the face. “Do not speak so familiarly, coward.”
As the horror of who had been interrogating him all this time surfaced in his head, the joy of seeing returned to Ixxom. He looked around. The interrogation room was lit dimly by a few electro-candles, long dried blood stains were all about, and in the corners were the torturer-servitors. Even this sorry sight was welcome. Only one of the machine constructs was on, at a lit console controlling the electro-shocks. But as he remembered, this is how this interrogator, his interrogator, liked to work. Just him, one servitor, one room and one…damned soul.
However, something changed in the Chaplain, he un-scrunched what muscles were left in his back and shoulders. Turning away, Ortan traced the path between metal and flesh on his face and said so quietly it was almost to himself “…it was Tyranids. The ones you were supposed to kill.”
Ixxom looks back toward his old friend “We slew as many as we could.”
Ortan rounds on him so fast, that despite himself Ixxom flinched. “I know your Brothers all did! What about you?!”
With all the intensity in his eyes of a man falsely accused, Ixxom calmly said “I am no coward. I killed my fair share, old friend. If you will listen to my story, and not interrupt, accost or accuse me, you will see I am not lying to you. Have you not looked through my armour’s vid feed?”
Ortan Cassius looked into Ixxom’s eyes, his gut telling him to listen and to stay his wroth. “Even our Master of The Forge cannot calm your armour’s machine spirit. He supposes it could not cope with all the carnage it saw, and then being separated from you…He has advised that it be destroyed. I have convinced him otherwise for now. Proceed. If I find out you have told me any falsity, I will kill you personally. Not with chems, electro-shocks, nor even any weapon, but my fist closing round both your hearts. Do you understand?”
“Yes…Why not take me to my armour? That may calm it. Can I be released from this bondage and sit? Or even get some water?”
“Your tale, Ixxom, or I’ll leave you here to rot.”
“Up here I stay then.” He breaks the gaze, fidgets to get as comfortable as possible, takes in a deep breath and said “I’ll not bore you with the dates. Here it is, as well as I can remember it…”
…And that’s it at the moment. What do you think?