Wednesday, 29 June 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 6

The latest short story in the series. This one focuses on one of the most famous (or should I say infamous?) characters of the World Eaters. There hasn't been anything so far on the recruitment practices of the Legion, the worlds they used or their native culture, and it is definitely food for thought! So, take it away..

The Gift of the God

By Jamie Morris (AKA Lord_Caldera)

HE CAME SUDDENLY one night: an avatar of my god, though he knew it not. He came at the height of the Festival in a great iron bird which flew on streamers of fire with the noise of a thousand great beasts roaring as one. Huge clouds of smoke billowed from its stubby wings as it lit upon the ground just outside of the contest ring where my brother fought.
My clansmen gathered around its immense body with more curiosity than fear, many loosening weapons in their slings. My brother, drenched in gore and sweat, dispatched his last opponent quickly and clambered out of the ring to stand beside me.
I was proud of my brother. He was the finest warrior of my village, and I longed for the day when he would be proud of me too – the day that I would enter the ring against him, the day that I would take the head from his shoulders in the name of our god, the day that I would claim my rightful place as His Voice.

But that day was not this day. This day I was young and though I was stronger and faster than most of our clan’s finest warriors, I was not yet a man.
The iron bird opened its mouth without warning and breathed a haze of strange-smelling steam over the assembled men and boys. A dull yellowish light seeped out and glinted off the weapons my clansmen were now fingering nervously. When the fog cleared a solitary figure stood bathed in the light. It was impossibly huge for a man, and encased in some strange armour made of a pearly white material I had never seen before. All but the head; the head was that of a man, and was a mass of scars more twisted than those of the village elders. The deep-set eyes which surveyed the crowd were not those of a senile old man, however. They were cold and piercing – predator’s eyes – and I sensed that they unsettled even the hardiest of the men around me.
Except for my brother.
He pushed his way to the front of the silent crowd and took a welcoming stance, with his feet braced apart and his gleaming axe held before him in a challenge. ‘Identify yourself, stranger, in the name of the Lord of Blood!’ he cried out.

The giant’s steely eyes locked onto him and a smile ghosted around his lips. A low voice grated out his words. ‘Who is this “lord”? I am in haste and would speak with your highest ranking citizen.’
‘He is the God of Battle, and on this day I am His Voi-’ my brother began before his head exploded with a sharp bang. A full grin pushed its way onto the giant’s face as he watched my brother’s body slump to the ground. He replaced a smoking contraption of metal into a holder on his belt and stared at the blood pooling around my brother’s neck as he spoke to us forcefully.
‘No. Your god is nothing. I am here to give you the Truth. You are now servants of the Emperor of Mankind and will act as such. You will not worship. You will obey. And if any man wishes to challenge this, he will speak now.’
Rage built inside of me at my brother’s death and at the insolence of this man. No one spoke and I realized that my friends and family were weak. I wanted the power that was rightfully mine. I had been my brother’s better and I was this monster’s better. I would claim his armour and his weapons for myself.
‘You still have not identified yourself!’ I shouted. The crowd parted slowly to let me through to the front. I saw many frightened faces and my rage grew at their feebleness.

The giant considered me for a moment before stepping down from the open beak of his mount and meeting me over my brother’s body. This close I could see how truly massive his white and blue-clad form was, towering nearly twice my own height. There was amusement in the face as he replied, ‘I am Astartes of the 12th Legion. I am Captain Goran Perro of the 8th Assault Company of the World Eaters.’ He glanced up to address the rest of the assembled men and boys of my village. ‘I have travelled many leagues to find those worthy of joining me and my battle-brothers, but it seems I have come to this place for naught. I see nothing but dotards and women before me. I am disappointed to find no warriors.’
He turned and began to stride back towards the bird. I seethed at this final slight. Did he not see my potential? I swore to the God that I would see this giant dead, and my pitiful village with him. I bent and hefted my brother’s iron axe. It was the most finely crafted weapon I had ever seen, and had been passed down within my family for generations. I swiftly closed the distance to the giant and roared a battle cry – as he turned I swung the huge axe with all of my might.
The blade struck his breastplate and shattered upon the terrible armour. I had but a moment for surprise before he reacted, smacking my head almost casually with his fist and sending me sprawling to the ground.
A gravelly laughter filled my ears as I dragged myself to my feet.
I felt blood running down my face. It felt good.
The giant was still laughing as he slung me over his shoulder and walked back to his bird. I spat broken teeth at my former clan as blood dripped into my eyes and a red haze drifted over the world. ‘You are just the thing I was looking for,’ chuckled the giant. ‘What is your name, boy?’ As the enormous beak shut off the last sight of my family, I choked out the answer to his question:


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