Tuesday, 21 June 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 5

The short story series will be drawing to a close shortly, as the number of short stories which I have yet to feature dry up. Here is one that was hidden away on a user's blog on The Great Crusade forum. For anyone who has read (or rather listened to) 'Garro: Legion of One' they will be familiar with the concept behind it. It's certainly well written, and worth taking the time to read.

Last of the Loyal

By Leon Carter

The grille of his helmet rasped heavily, each breath a knife thrust into his lungs. Blood dribbled in his mouth. He tried to move, but his broken body denied him. The bone shield protecting his chest cavity had been punctured, shards of it deeply rupturing his primary heart. His left knee was broken to splinters, while his shoulder dislocated.

Alarm signs flickering on the display of his left helmet visor, the one that remained intact, interrupted sporadically by surges of static, showed him that his power armour was in no better condition either. Life support was failing, leaving many of his wounds unclotted. Painful warmth washed over the many gashes and fissures torn into his ravaged and battered plate as his blood escaped through them unrestrained. His right pauldron had exploded to shreds, along with most of his upper arm, hit by a bolter round.

Garthe grunted in annoyance at his own momentary inability, another bolt of pain striking his lungs.

The stench of death around him was suffocating. He sank into the middle of a pile of cut down bodies, about two dozens, all clad in full plate of power armour, Astartes just like him, glued together by drying puddles of blood. Heads savagely cleaved in two, mutilated limbs scattered about, torsos mangled and disembowelled, flesh and ceramite ripped open by chainsword teeth. The battle had been fierce, leaving only a gory mess.

The contrast between Garthe's own cracked, dented, crudely maintained battlegear of white and dark blue and the elegant regale of the slain warriors, shimmering in violets and gold outlines couldn't be more evident.

A blood-soaked chainsword lay a few centimetres away from Garthe's crippled hand. His retribution given form, it was that very weapon that had cut a way through the ranks of the now fallen, slaughtering and butchering them.

His right eye exposed behind the shattered visor, Garthe cast his glance high up to the sky. The azure field spread through his vision sparkled with the clarity of refined crystal. Peaceful and tranquil, remembrancers called such sights, but he felt differently. Inside him, the static view only ignited rage. He refused to lie down, motionlessly and die here. He had a vengeance to deliver.

Dull thumps of footsteps found their way to his ears. All too familiar. The unmistakable, whining noise of power armour servos.

Garthe gritted his teeth as he made another attempt at forcing his arms to move and reach for his chainsword, but again, his body defied his will. The steps drew closer. If his enemies wanted to visit death upon him, there was no stopping them.

A face appeared above him. A face of an old man, an Astartes, whose presence had not been diminished by the long centuries he had undoubtedly witnessed. His scarred, stiffened features carried with them a streak of nobility, hard-learned wisdom glimmered in his eyes. For a moment, even Garthe paused in his breath at the sight of him.

'It took a while to find you, lad,' the old warrior said. There was no hostility to his voice. 'Garthe The Bloody Vengeance.'

'Who... are you...?' Garthe forced a question through the blood and drool gurgling in his throat. As much as he could move his eyes, he tried to get a measure of the older Astartes and identify him by the pattern and insignia of his armour. He was unable to decide for sure.

'A faithful soldier who was betrayed by his legion. Him and all he swore an oath to uphold. Just like you.'


The word lingered in Garthe's mind, arousing waves of boiling rage. Rage formed from hurt, helplessness and refusal.

'You are one remarkable and stubborn lad, you know that?' the old man nodded appreciatively. 'Completely alone, without a legion, without a primarch, you wander from planet to planet, leaving only heaps of dismembered traitors in your wake.'

Garthe grunted. He would have smiled, had his lungs not been in constant pain. He took pride in the havoc he had wrought among the ranks of his chosen enemies.

'You remember the ways of past ages. The valor of those times. That is why this shameful treason hurts you so,' the other Astartes continued, and looked the wounded, crippled warrior in the eye. Within that gaze, everything was told that ever could pass between two warriors of honour and that no words could possibly convey. Garthe nodded, even the small gesture painful and difficult to perform.

'The Emperor needs his loyal sons, Garthe Erklan. Will you answer his call?' the old man asked and dipped a finger of his gauntlet into the blood seeping from Garthe's chest wound.

'I... will,' Garthe sighed heavily.

'Will you swear to me, Iacton Qruze, last of the Luna Wolves, to serve Him, beloved by all, to protect the Imperium of Man from the threats it faces, and bring down His wrath at the traitor and the betrayer?' he intoned as he wrote the words on Garthe's marred plate with blood.

'I... Garthe Erklan... last of the World Eaters... swear it.'

'Then it is done,' said Iacton and waved with his hand. An Astartes, his power armour distinctively white, arrived after another series of thumping steps, only visible from the corner of Garthe's eye. 'Apothecary Callon, do what you can for the lad here and prepare him for transfer.'

'Yes, sir,' Callon said firmly and crouching down, immediately set to his work.

Garthe felt faint stinges through the layers of pain already enveloping his body as the Apothecary injected him with sedatives, and slowly drifted into unconsciousness. But he would not die. His rightful vengeance would be carried out and his honour purged of the blemish it had suffered by the betrayal.

A blemish he intended to pay back in thick blood.

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