To Die with Pride
To die with pride, bolter in hand was all that Ichoma Dentath had yearned. It was all any Astartes could wish... He had even been so lucky as to have that perfect moment, fighting alongside his closest brother there in the ruins of the subterranean sewage systems, just to hold off the Star Phantom dogs for a few moments longer. What a death that would have been..
And yet he had squandered that, it seemed.
How he remained alive was a mystery. A section at the right side of his skull was missing, the agonizing pain of that and the dozen other wounds he had sustained dulled into a merciful throb by pain inhibitors. He could see nothing for they had stolen his site, or perhaps at least from the eye that he had left. He could not move, arms bound behind his back, feet done in similar fashion to force him in a permanent kneeling position like some sinner seeking redemption. That was worth a laugh, even if the pain wasn't exactly worth it...
He could hear at least, the distant thrum of a ship's plasma engines growling in the distance like some predatory beast, a sound that was not welcoming to him in that moment. So they had taken him, it seemed... to extract information for who knows what reason. The Emperor might... but Ichoma had long forgotten any sense of prayer to that name. For decades he had been silent to their pleas for aid. Why would he answer now?
Footsteps in the distance, two the familiar crash of ceramite boots, warriors of the Adeptus Astartes. The other, far weaker, human. Judging from the weight and stride they were of strong bearing, average build and likely wearing light carapace armour. Inquisition...
No sooner had the doors to his cell open did he spit at the estimated location of the human intruder, that acidic bile fizzling as it hit the barrier field that surrounded his confined space.
Worth a shot, at least...
"Your attempt to kill a member of the Holy Ordos is noted," the human voice spoke, a woman, stern and seemingly unphased by the failed attempt on her life.
"Can you blame me for trying?" Ichoma offered the woman he could not see an ugly smile, his right cheek little more than tortured sinew beneath a gouged eye socket.
Without a further word there was the familiar crack of bolter stocks meeting ceramite pauldrons, bolters no doubt raised at his head for any further sign of... lacking cooperation. The threat was obvious even if it went unspoken.
"I am Interrogator Prime Allesandra Dellian of the most Holy Ordo and I address you as an agent of the God Emperor."
There was a small snort of jest from the prisoner, but the barb was promptly ignored.
"I speak to Brother Ichoma Dentath of the Astral Claws, correct?"
"Illuminate me then."
"I am Battle Brother Ichoma Dentath, loyal knight of the Tyrant's Legion to my dying breath and formerly of the Astral Claws. I have no delusions of my place here. If I am alive then that means my Chapter is dead and my home world is no doubt already ashes. 5 billion loyal subjects and a Chapter with as many glorious honours as the Primogenitor chapters of old. All dead. All ashes. Ad Mortem."
"Dead traitors." This came from one of the two astartes that flanked the Interrogator Prime, the Montsegman accent clear in his voice. Red Hunters. Ichoma knew not to argue with them.
"Why am I alive?" There was the important question. The Star Phantoms were hardly the merciful type, that much was already well known from their callous disregard for 'collateral damage'. Had they not some formal request from the Inquisition, he would be happily dead with his brothers in the ruins of his home.
"To cleanse your soul."
There was a pause, as though there was to be some following line to reveal this as some hilarious joke at his expense. That never came.
"You have information," Allesandra continued when no response came, her voice as smooth and calm as it had been since she first entered the cell. "The Holy Ordos require this information, as we do from any of your kin that we have taken into custody. The heresy of Lufgt Huron, the one you call 'Tyrant', and the Astral Claws is one of unknown origins to us. In exchange for your cooperation, you will be assured a death with less pain than what your interrogations will guarantee and you may help to prevent such heresies from happening again. This contrition may act as a small atonement for the sin that stains your soul when we send your life to the Emperor."
Another pause, one that found itself cut by Ichoma's grim and mirthless laughter, a laughter filled with pain and disbelief. Whatever effect this might have had on the Interrogator Prime or the Astartes that watched him, he would not know, nor would he care.
"You will not comply?"
"I am Battle Brother Ichoma Dentath, lion of the astral pride now extinct, loyal knight of the Tyrant to my dying breath."
"Then we will make you talk." That enough would give Ichoma cause to give another ugly smile.
"You may try."
Battle Brother Ichoma Dentath of the Astral Claws Chapter
Legionary Cohort Squad Haakon, XIII Legion
Pict-feed taken at the siege of the Palace of Thorns, subterranean sewer system
Subject Terminated by Summary Execution via bolt pistol round to the skull