A Chance for Penance
To love the Emperor is to hate the weakness within ourselves. The words dominate the heart of the Chapel of Redemption, carved as crudely into the white marble of the ceiling by someone with poor tools and an unsteady hand as they are. The chapel occupies a sparsely-tread wing of the larger Cathedral Vilennas, evident in the fine layer of white dust and cobwebs adorning the Imperial imagery wrought into the walls. On average, the space is used once every five years — the faithful flock of Father Grasier are rarely called to account for acts against the Emperor.
Father Grasier is present now, but so is a guest of a rather more unusual nature. Sister Superior Severina stands at the pulpit, the priest looking uncomfortable at her side. With narrowed eyes, Severina stares at the man kneeling upon the dust floor before her, his worker’s garments filthy and torn.
‘Ser Gravenport, of the Factorum Principal?’
The sister’s voice echoes around the desolate chamber, causing the priest beside her to jump slightly. He covers the involuntary reaction with an exaggerated shiver. Gravenport nods, his head lowered in shame.
Severina continues: ‘You have been found guilty of heresy of the highest order. You have, against the will of Father Grasier and the Emperor, perpetuated the creation of a manifesto arguing against the proper order of the Factorum system.’
Gravenport opens his mouth halfway, as if to respond, then remembers his place. The elderly man seems almost to shrink into the cold, weathered marble flooring.
Father Grasier steps forward, his high-pitched voice quivering slightly.
‘Normally, the punishment for such heinous actions would be death, but Sister Severina has a choice for you. Do you love the Emperor, Ser Gravenport?’
‘Yes,’ the man replies, ‘with my entire heart, m’lord.’
‘He is no lord,’ Severina interjects icily, ‘but your answer pleases us and the Emperor too. As you may have heard, the war efforts in the Far Reaches are ongoing, and we have need of more men and materials to win decisively. The adepts of the Mechanicum have found a way you might yet contribute to the cause of the just.’
Behind the kneeling Gravenport, a half-dozen figures in red robes slip quietly into the chamber. They surround Gravenport, who looks behind him for the first time. As he catches sight of the Penitent Engine, he cannot stifle a gasp of horror from escaping his lips.
‘Well, ser? Will you make the Emperor proud?’
Gravenport swallows deeply and nods.
Missiles and shells arc into the sky, the cultists firing their artillery pieces with wild abandon. Stomping through a hail of las-rounds and heavy caliber-bullets, the Penitent Engine closes with the first of the siege pieces, tearing into it with furious abandon. One of the gunnery crew hurls himself at the Imperial engine, a grenade clutched in his hands.
Gravenport grins a bloody grin in his last moments.
For the love of the Emperor.
Edited by Tarvek Val, 20 February 2020 - 04:33 AM.
"Our holy hatred will make us free!" ~Nameless Dark Apostle
"Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire." ~Huron Blackheart
"You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father's failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords." ~Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter
"So... How are you?" ~Cyrion, First Claw