"The End" – Featured Fiction

For this edition of Featured Fiction, i’m pulling a classic out of the archives of Heresy-Online.  A super awesome community story started by Heresy-Online member “normtheunsavoury. ”  started back in August of 2008, it brought together some of the best writers on Heresy at the time. 
Norm started the story, and then asked the next person to do it, I was lucky enough to be asked to do chapter 3 of the story, as well as taking on another chapter later on in the still-developing story.  This is perhaps one of my favorite bits of fiction that i’ve ever worked on.  For your reading enjoyment, i’ll post the first three chapters here for you to read.

This story is as of yet, uncompleted.  If you enjoyed the story and would like to read the rest, and perhaps write a chapter yourself, just click on the link at the bottom of this post.  It will take you to the thread on Heresy where the story is located.  If you are already a member, feel free to post a chapter, just so long as it fits the story line, and meshes with the characters.  If you aren’t a member and would like to write something for it, contact me and i’ll send you a link to where you can sign up for Heresy.  or just add me as your referrer when you sign up.

cheers! and enjoy the story. :)

*******

“The End”

*******

Chapter 1:  by: Normtheunsavoury

*******

A single cry pierces the vacuum of the void, a terrible cry that only the most potent of psykers can hear, a scream so terrible that it has echoed for 10,000 years throughout the galaxy and the empyrean. It is the scream of an immortal dying, the scream of the God Emperor of Mankind, for 10,000 years it has driven those touched with psychic powers to insanity and now at the Age of Ending that scream has fallen silent.

“Why have we dropped out of Warp space Captain Astor?” boomed Admiral Clarris, His voice barely audible over the screaming sirens and the roar of the burning cogitators.

“I don’t know Admiral, everything was fine and then….”

Admiral Clarris was an imposing man and did not tolerate the failure of any members of his crew, he shot his captain a look that would have stopped a Daemon in it’s tracks and suddenly the captains mind went blank.

“Well, Captain, would you possibly consider finding out rather than standing there flapping in the bloody wind? What the hell is going on with my ship?”

At this the entire bridge crew burst into action, the shock had been shaken from them and they knew they had work to do or consequences to answer to.

Almost every system on the ship was either on fire or about to burst into flames and servitors moved from cogitator to cogitator trying to extinguish the fires, through one of the soot covered armourcrys viewing portals an ensign spotted something.

“Admiral, I think you should look at this, sir, it’s, um,, well ….” Panic was taking control of the young ensign, tears appearing in his eyes.

“Get out of the way boy, in the name of the Emperor, what is wrong with everyone today….” the Admiral stopped and stared, in nearly 300 years of service he had never seen anything like the scene that presented itself to him outside the ship.

Captain Astor made his way through the belly of the Righteous Hatred, if anyone would know what had happened it would be Mi So the ships Astropath, he hated having to speak with the psyker, the things dead eyes always made him feel uneasy.

The door to her chamber was open and as soon as Astor walked into the dark a strange feeling washed over him, something was horribly wrong.

The chamber was silent except for a feint clicking sound, an irregular tapping, that, as he drew closer he realised, was dripping.

The Astropaths chamber was awash with blood and the young Psyker was laying in the middle of the gory scene, her entrails torn out by her own hands and wrapped around her like a shroud.

On the wall, scrawled in her own blood and faeces were two words “The End”

Astor keyed his communicator “Admiral Clarris, this is Captain Astor, it’s Mi

So, she is dead sir.”

“You had better get your scrawny arse back up to the bridge captain” Clarris sounded shaken, that was bad, Clarris was never shaken.

“What is it Admiral?”

“ We have dropped out of the Warp right above Terra Captain, Right above Holy Terra…”

The Admirals voice broke up, it sounded almost like the tough old sailor was crying.

“Holy Terra is burning, Captain, Burning”

********

chapter 2: by: immOrtal reaper

********

“Burning?!” Astor repeated, dumbstruck.

“Aye Captain” Clarris replied solemnly “Even from here you can see it. there are other ships here Captain, thousands.”

Astor held the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger for a long minute, taking in the scope of Holy Terra burning. Finally the Captain snapped into action, sprinting back to the command deck.
When he arrived, the crew stood huddled around one of the navigation screens.

“What is it?” Astor asked approaching the screen.

“A Distress signal with an attached video.” Replied Jonas, a young navigator.

They stared at the image on the screen, binary composed in the form of a ditress signal. The image froze and then the screen burst into light as a video began to play.

The screen shook as the ground infront of the camera errupted. A huge figure, encased in blue and gold charged towards the camera. The figure looked old and wise but was haggerd and battered. Blood wept from multiple wounds upon his face, his left arm hung impotently at his side, half severed, and he bore a hole in his shoulder.

“This is Marneus Calgar of the blessed Ultramarines” the man spoke, his breath ragged “We have held them for days and nights. My Chapter is broken! We must fall back. There is no escape. Do not send aid! I repeat. Stay away from Ter-“

The video was cut short as a blinding light engulfed the screen. Static followed.

“And it just repeats.” Jonas stated.

“How old is this?” Admiral Clarris asked. Jonas typed for several seconds before stopping, open mouthed.

“What? What is it boy? How old is this transmission?” Astor asked, his eyes alight with fearful interest.

“The date. It’s M41 001. This is 2 years Terran time into the future sir”

“What? how is that possible?” Clarris asked, furious.

Jonas entered more information into the computer before stopping abruptly once again.

“Sir, the nav-computer reads the present data as M51 0001. According to this Sir, we are over 10,000 years in the future”

Silence filled the bridge, only broken as the disrtess video started once again.

And outside the viewscreen in front of them, beyond the thousands of wrecked starships, Terra continued to burn.

********

Chapter 3: by: Commissar Ploss

********

It had to be a mistake.  Surely there was something wrong with their systems.  Even now, servitors were still attempting to extinguish fires burning from many of the cogitators.  There was something wrong with the data, there had to be.

“What do we do sir!” Jonas pleaded.

“Admiral?” Captain Astor asked.

Admiral Clarris was leaning on the railing of the bridge.  Tears streamed from his eyes and down his face.  He seemed to be shaking.

“Why…now!” the Admiral spoke amidst his sobs.

“What is it sir?”

“Don’t you hear it!”

“Sir, I hear nothing but these blasted sirens!”

“The screams my boy…the screams…”  The Admirals words grew softer as he sunk to his knees on the decking.

“Medic! Quickly! See to the Admiral!”  Captain Astor bellowed.  “Get him to the medical ward immediately!”

As the medicae staff carried him off the bridge, Admiral Clarris sat up on the stretcher, grabbed the lapel of one of the orderlies and whispered, “Holy Terra herself is in pain.”  Turning back towards the Captain on the bridge, he reached and yelled out, “Don’t go near that place!  It will only lead you to your doom!”

It seemed to the Captain that the Admiral had gone insane.  The very sight of Terra burning had tortured the man so severely that it had incapacitated him.

Captain Astor turned back solemnly towards the rest of the staff there on the bridge.  He raised his hands wide and spoke to all of them.  “In the absence of a commanding officer, I will assume command of this vessel and its operations!”

Jonas stood up at his station and addressed the Captain.  “With all due respect sir, none of us know what to do!”

It dawned on the captain that there was little they could do here.  With thousands of ships from Emperor knows where, and the same garbled message playing in the background, things were getting out of hand.  He had to act now.

“Jonas! Shut this message off, but don’t stop monitoring it!  I want to hear right away if anything else is found!  He turned to another navigator bent over his station.  “You there!  How many Lightning wings do we have operational?”

“Two sir, Beta and Lambda wings are fueled and primed for your orders.” said the young man.

“Good.  I want Beta and Lambda squadrons to sweep the poles and tell me what the flek is going on down there!  If there are any pockets of resistance left that are holding their own, thats where they’ll be!”

“Sir, I don’t think thats such a good-” Jonas cut in.

“Damn it son! We’re the blasted Imperial Navy!  And based on what I see here, I think it fleking well is a good idea!  Now, what do we have on the order of available troops?”

“None of the regiments are battle ready sir!  We were in Warp Space just a few minutes ago, most of the troops have just been woken!”

“Then you better well get them ready!  I want them briefed and ready to drop as soon as I get some feedback from those Lightning’s!  If there are soldiers still alive down there they’re gonna need all the help they can get!”

“What about Marneus Calgar and the Ultramarines, sir!”

“Looks like they’re fleking well going to need some help as well son, don’t you think!”

“Sir! Yes sir!”  Jonas saluted and hurried back to his station.

“Now the rest of you!  I want open lines of communication with every ship in this sector!  I want to know who’s here and why!  I need to coordinate an effort with anyone who’ll listen!  I need guns! I need fighters! I need some fleking solid minds!  If they’re not here to help, get them the flek out of here! NOW MOVE!”

Captain Astor leaned on the railing of the bridge where the Admiral had stood just moments before, the vision of Holy Terra squarely in his gaze.  He sighed as he thought of what the Admiral had said.  Screams.  Probably just the ravings of a emotionally destroyed man.  But still, the Admiral was not one to break so easily.  What ever he had ‘heard’ really messed him up.  He was glad he hadn’t heard it too.

He released the rail, took a deep breath and strode over to the Admiral’s throne.  Buttons and knobs of all shapes and sizes protruded out from its golden arms like a pissed off porcupine.  Laying on the seat was a golden helmet.  Streaming with thick golden wires it looked like it trailed a mane of hair from its crown to the back of the chair.  Astor knew what this device was.  It was the neuro-link that the Admiral wore to help direct the actions and movements of the ship.  It connected whomever wore it directly to the ships machine spirit.  What pains the ship felt, he would feel.  What exhaustion the ship felt, he would feel.  What destruction the ship felt, he would feel.  It was a harrowing feeling.  One that he didn’t want to have to deal with at this very moment.  There was no choice.  The foundation of Mankind was burning under their feet and hesitation was not to be rewarded.  Captain Astor picked up the neuro-link, turned, and sat down on the chair.  It was warm, he thought to himself.  Wait, why was he thinking of that at a time like this.  Maybe in the toughest of moments, Astor thought, you still had to be able to notice the details.  Details would be important in the next few moments and he was glad that he was still noticing them.

With a deep breath, Captain Astor raised the golden helmet into the air and placed it over his head.

The pain that greeted him was immense.  Captain Astor yelled out uncontrollably as the ship reminded him how much damage had been done already.  Multiple fires were burning through the ships decks and he could feel the damage being done.  He struggled to suppress the pain coursing through his body.  It was several minutes before Captain Astor was able to gain some control of the situation.  Regaining his composure, Astor took in the helmet display.  There were three prominent items that took up the majority of the screen.  In one corner was a structural map of the ship showing the multiple decks and rooms of the ship.  All of these were color coded to some effect showing their status and structual integrity.  Anything labeled the color red, Astor assumed, could be called structurally unstable.  And by the looks of it there were about three decks worth towards the aft end of the ship that were a deep crimson shade.  Astor called up a magnified display of the afflicted area to better asses the damage.  Decks A through F were situated near the Warp drives and as such had been damaged when they had been unexpectedly dumped from warp space.  The majority of the fires were situated in those areas closest to the rooms above the drive compartments.  Captain Astor managed to cut the oxygen flow to these areas in the hopes of staunching the brunt of the flames.

A beeping red indicator sounded suddenly in his ear.  A second later, another image took over his viewplate.  The pict was that of Terra.  Only now, this was a more schematic view of the planet.  The majority of the planet was covered in a grid format that displayed the various planetary sectors, quadrants and hemispheres.  Once again there was a color display of the varying heat registers emanating from the planet’s surface.  Auspex flashes indicated where Beta and Lambda Lightning squadrons buzzed back and forth across the surface.  He could hear the bustle of vox traffic between the squadron commanders.  From what he could gather there didn’t seem to be much of anything going on down on the surface.  Most of the planet seemed to have been demolished or burned out.  The odds of there being anyone alive down there seemed slim, but it still felt like he was doing the right thing.

Captain Astor silenced the vox traffic so he could think.  What could have happened to the Ultramarines?  How could a chapter of such magnitude and strength be failing, or have failed in such a way.  It was beyond his comprehension.  If the glorious Ultramarines had failed, how could he hope to succeed.  And what of the Wolves of Fenris? Didn’t the legends say that if Terra was ever in danger, the men of Fenris would come to her aid like a mother wolf protecting its young?  Where were the fabled Space Wolves?  And lets not forget the Custodian Guard, the Adeptus Custodes.  So many questions and possibly no answers.  He wondered whether or not Marneus Calgar issued that signal out of pride.  Was he afraid to admit defeat in the face of insurmountable odds?  Did he not want aid for fear that it would squander his victory?  No one could be that brash.

A vox transmission indicator interrupted his thoughts.  He quickly queued it up and saw that it was from Lighning Wing Leader Beta.

“This is Captain Astor, what news of the surface?”  He was certain that there was no one alive but he needed the confirmation from the wing leader.

“This is Beta leader with good news sir!  Three of our Lightning fighters have reported signs of Imperial resistance over the Imperial Primus Palace sir!  And Lambda wing has reported activity over the Ecclesiarchal Palace and the Scholastica Psykana!  Sir there are still people alive down here!”

“Emperor be praised! Wonderful! Beta Leader, coordinate your efforts with Lambda Leader and give those people any sort of help you can! Captain Astor out.”

“Aye sir, Beta leader out.”

‘Our doom be damned!’ thought Captain Astor to himself.  What had the Admiral been so frightened about?  It seemed to him that Admiral Clarris was a man in distress.  There was nothing that man could say that would change his mind now.  He was going to help the Adeptus Terra and all those down there as best he could.  After all he was presently in command of an Emperor class Imperial Battleship.  He still had port and starboard batteries at full operating potential, and his normal space drive engines were in good shape. So he didn’t have his Warp drive engines, but that wasn’t going to be a problem.

“Navigator Jonas!”

“Yes Captain!”  He had just been communicating with another Emperor class battleship on the other side of the planet.

“By the Emperor’s guiding light there are still people alive down there!”

“Thats excellent news sir!”

“Fleking right it is!  How many regiments are ready to drop?”

“Sir, you have 5 million men at your disposal.”

Captain Astor smiled a very broad smile.  It looked very odd behind the eyeless helmet he wore, but it was a smile nonetheless.

“Your orders sir?”  Jonas asked impatiently.

Captain Astor turned his blind gaze towards Jonas, still smiling that broad smile.

“drop ’em.”
***

So, thus concludes the first three chapters of “The End”. Its a great community story that can still go so many directions.  Once again, if you want to read the rest click the link below.  Also, if you want to write a chapter for it, just post in thread detailing your intent, and the follow up with a chapter post.  I’d love to read it and see where you take the story next. :)

http://www.heresy-online.net/forums/showthread.php?t=16173

A single cry pierces the vacuum of the void, a terrible cry that only the most potent of psykers can hear, a scream so terrible that it has echoed for 10,000 years throughout the galaxy and the empyrean. It is the scream of an immortal dying, the scream of the God Emperor of Mankind, for 10,000 years it has driven those touched with psychic powers to insanity and now at the Age of Ending that scream has fallen silent.

“Why have we dropped out of Warp space Captain Astor?” boomed Admiral Clarris, His voice barely audible over the screaming sirens and the roar of the burning cogitators.
“I don’t know Admiral, everything was fine and then….”
Admiral Clarris was an imposing man and did not tolerate the failure of any members of his crew, he shot his captain a look that would have stopped a Daemon in it’s tracks and suddenly the captains mind went blank.
“Well, Captain, would you possibly consider finding out rather than standing there flapping in the bloody wind? What the hell is going on with my ship?”
At this the entire bridge crew burst into action, the shock had been shaken from them and they knew they had work to do or consequences to answer to.
Almost every system on the ship was either on fire or about to burst into flames and servitors moved from cogitator to cogitator trying to extinguish the fires, through one of the soot covered armourcrys viewing portals an ensign spotted something.
“Admiral, I think you should look at this, sir, it’s, um,, well ….” Panic was taking control of the young ensign, tears appearing in his eyes.
“Get out of the way boy, in the name of the Emperor, what is wrong with everyone today….” the Admiral stopped and stared, in nearly 300 years of service he had never seen anything like the scene that presented itself to him outside the ship.

Captain Astor made his way through the belly of the Righteous Hatred, if anyone would know what had happened it would be Mi So the ships Astropath, he hated having to speak with the psyker, the things dead eyes always made him feel uneasy.
The door to her chamber was open and as soon as Astor walked into the dark a strange feeling washed over him, something was horribly wrong.
The chamber was silent except for a feint clicking sound, an irregular tapping, that, as he drew closer he realised, was dripping.
The Astropaths chamber was awash with blood and the young Psyker was laying in the middle of the gory scene, her entrails torn out by her own hands and wrapped around her like a shroud.
On the wall, scrawled in her own blood and faeces were two words “The End”
Astor keyed his communicator “Admiral Clarris, this is Captain Astor, it’s Mi So, she is dead sir.”
“You had better get your scrawny arse back up to the bridge captain” Clarris sounded shaken, that was bad, Clarris was never shaken.
“What is it Admiral?”
“ We have dropped out of the Warp right above Terra Captain, Right above Holy Terra…”
The Admirals voice broke up, it sounded almost like the tough old sailor was crying.
“Holy Terra is burning, Captain, Burning”

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. www.chiquegeek.com. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of www.TheFoundingFields.com. Beware my wonky-ness…

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